Whether you arrived expecting it, or it came out of the blue, hearing negative things about your son or daughter at parents evening is pretty unpleasant.
Although it is hard to hear, finding out that there are problems with your child’s performance or behaviour at parents evening, does give you the opportunity to help your child get back on track.
So, before you go to pieces and ground your son or daughter until they are 18, here is some guidance on how to turn that bad parents evening round and get something positive from your 10 minutes of harrowing feedback.
Top tips for dealing with a slightly negative/totally terrible parents evening.
First and foremost, don’t panic
Parents evening is a chance for your child’s teacher to let you know the areas that your son or daughter could improve. Although it is wonderful to be told what your child is great at, teachers need to use this time to tell you where your child is struggling and get the most out of this one to one time with you.
It’s therefore perfectly normal to be advised of areas that they need to work on and also quite usual for small issues in your child’s behaviour or progress to be addressed for the first time at parents evening (which doesn’t help with the shock factor I know!).
Don’t take negative comments personally
What ever you are being told about your child, it is not aimed at you and you are not being told off. Try to listen with an open mind to the comments the teacher is making and remember that this is your opportunity to work with your son or daughter and the teacher to make things better.
Make sure you understand the issues
Although the time slots at parents evening are limited, it’s really important to use the time to ask questions to ensure that you fully understand what the issues are and what the teacher thinks is causing them.
Key things to find our are:
- How long the problem has been going on
- Are other classmates being affected/involved
- What has already been done at school to try to resolve it
Ask what the teacher thinks you can do or wants you do to help
It’s logical to assume that if you are being told about an issue, the teacher would like your support rectifying the problem. Therefore if they don’t offer up any ideas for what you can do to help, be sure to ask.
Make sure you find out what the teacher/school are going to do and what you can do at home to support their approach. Try to establish a means by which you can be kept updated of the progress as the term progresses rather than waiting for the next parents evening.
There are various ways in which this might happen, such as by using a home-school book to keep each other up to date; giving extra work or support to help your child catch up; arranging further meetings with your child’s teacher to keep track of their progress or using a reward scheme to encourage change.
Ask to have a follow up meeting
If you are used to positive parents evenings or this is your first parents evening, it is highly likely that you were so stunned by any negative feedback that you left the room without getting the full picture or finding out how you can help.
This is fine.
Sometimes it is best to have time to digest the news, have a chat to your son or daughter and then request to have a follow up meeting to agree a way forward with the teaching staff.
Likewise, if you didn’t feel the allocated time at parents evening enabled you to fully discuss the issue(s) then ask for a separate meeting with the teacher with more time to explore way to resolve things.
Tackle the issues positively with your child
Possibly the hardest one to manage!
Although your gut reaction may be to pace around the kitchen yelling at your son or daughter whilst simultaneously banning the use of the iPad and any TV indefinitely, this is not the best approach.
If you are feeling highly emotional straight after parents evening it may be best to wait and address the issues after you have had some time to reflect on what was said at parents evening.
Try to remain positive about the feedback from parents evening, focus on the nice things that were said as well as the areas where there needs to be improvement. If you have already discussed and agreed a plan with the teacher, you need to talk through this with your son or daughter and make sure they understand why it is needed and what the goals are.
If you’ve not yet agreed a plan of action with the teaching staff then it might help to talk through some ideas with your child.
I was really concerned when my son’s teacher advised us that his handwriting at the start of year 2 was below the required standard. But we chatted with him and thought up some fun ways to add extra writing into each week as well as agreeing that he would do a handwriting sheet each morning. He now writes a weekly letter to his grandparents and loves the fact that they write back. It’s made the need to write neatly more relevant to him and his world and he is already improving after just a few weeks
- Kate, mum of Year 2 pupil, Bristol
If the issues are behavioural, it’s important to remember that although it is important for your child to know that you are disappointed and their behaviour is not acceptable, they will have been reprimanded at school and you should not punish them at home as well. Instead you could try to work on a reward plan whereby they get a reward if their behaviour improves over a fixed period of time.
Don’t be afraid to engage with the school
Any serious issues occurring at school are unlikely to have been left until parents evening to be raised, but if you do feel that the issue is serious or needs further explanation or involvement from the school then you should ask for a meeting with the relevant teaching staff.
It is in everyone’s interest to sort out any problems your child is having and important that there is a three way conversation occurring between yourself, your child and the school.
Looking for some impartial advice on your child’s progress at school?
If you or your child’s teachers are concerned about your child’s progress and you feel that some extra learning support may help, KipMcGrath offer a free learning assessment to establish what your child can and cannot do in English and maths benchmarked against their year level on the standard curriculum.
This gives us a starting point for tutoring (if you feel that you want to have some external learning support) and an idea of how long it will take to help your child to catch up to the appropriate year level as an independent learner.
Get in touch with us today to chat through how we work and where and how we can help you and your child.Contact Us