Teachers are extremely busy people, but you can talk to them in a way that will ensure that you receive useful feedback. Read on to find out what questions you should ask them when checking on your child’s progress.
“What are some specific ways that my child can improve?”
Some teachers give vague and unhelpful feedback without realising it. For instance, observations such as “too shy” or “needs to show more initiative” do not provide children with concrete information about what they should do in order to improve.
To cite an example, a child who is inaudible during a presentation may want to work on at least being heard by the teacher or a small group of students in the next presentation. Or, if a child tends to be tongue-tied during the stimulus-based conversation component of an oral test, you can set a target for him/her to have at least a one-sentence response to every question asked.
“I would like to reward my child for effort. Did you notice any improvements made by him/her in the recent assessment?”
“How did my child do for the recent assessment?” If you ask a general question about your child’s performance, you will likely receive a generalised response. If you find that a teacher’s feedback does not provide you with any useful insights, letting the teacher know that you would like to praise or reward your child for effort could provide an incentive for the teacher to give you more details. For instance, the teacher may recall a question or task that your child was successful in, which others found challenging.
Alternatively, you could quiz the teacher on the specific goals that you have set with your child, so that you can find out if your child is actually making efforts to improve in those areas. If not, you will need to reassess these goals in terms of their clarity and attainability, or find out if there are other stumbling blocks that may be hindering your child’s progress.
“Is this a good way to revise?”
Before you launch into an elaborate revision strategy with your child, either by procuring new materials or even creating your own, be sure to check with your child’s teacher if what you’re doing is in line with his/her teaching goals.
For instance, let’s say you’re considering taking on a more creative and holistic approach to science revision, by letting your child read news articles and general interest web sites. However, these sources may contain inaccurate information, or explanations that deviate from what the school is teaching. To avoid confusion and wasted effort, consult your child’s teacher, show him/her what you intend to use or do, and get the teacher’s feedback on how you can best support the school’s teaching efforts.