As this school year is winding down, there might be ongoing concerns you have about how the year has gone OR you have concerns regarding next year. Whether you are scheduling a meeting with your child’s teacher or run into him/her when you’re in the school, you want to maximize your “facetime.” The standard, “How’s my child doing?” will often yield the same response, “Fine, nothing to worry about.” Or, “There’s a problem in math, let’s set up a time to talk about it.”
The question is, “How to get the most information in whatever time you have?” The key is to be Prepared, Organized, and leave with a Plan. Whatever concern you might have will fall into one of these categories: academic, social or emotional.
The first step to being prepared is to PRIORITIZE your concerns. What are you most concerned? Problems with friends? A specific academic area? Anxiety? Self esteem? Whatever the area of concern, be able to provide the teacher with examples.
Once you decide precisely what it is you want to discuss, the next step is to ASK the right question. Don’t ask a question that you already know the answer to.
Not: “How is my child doing in math?”
Say: “I noticed my child received a Level 2 on the last Numeracy assessment, what can we do to help them improve?”
Often parents request interviews because they feel they really don’t know how their child is doing. Perhaps they haven’t seen work samples or they can’t get a satisfactory answer from their child. Ask the teacher specific questions.
Not: How’s my child doing?
Say: “Can you tell me what my child’s academic strengths and weaknesses are? Can you show me examples? Can you suggest how we can develop the areas of strength and improve the areas of weakness? Can you show me what that assignment should have looked like?
Academic areas are often easier to discuss than social/emotional areas. But, direct questions should result in a clear understanding of strengths and/or weaknesses.
Not: Does my child have friends?
Say: Does my child demonstrate age appropriate social skills? Does my child begin tasks promptly? Does he/she work independently?
You want to leave the meeting feeling that your concerns/questions have been addressed. If you are feeling unclear and the time is up, ask to set up another meeting. You may want to clarify what it is that you will be doing and what the teacher will be doing. Have a clear Plan.