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The Parent-Teacher Meeting: What Should You Ask?

Every year, you get 10 precious minutes to make a difference for your child—if you manage to steer the annual parent-teacher conversation in the right direction.

We approached Michelle, a primary schoolteacher, for her opinion on soliciting useful feedback from teachers. “I‘ve been teaching since 2005, and I have attended my share of parent-teacher meetings, or PTMs, that seem to suggest many parents are not entirely sure of what to talk about,” she says. “Instead of focusing solely on results and how to score that coveted A*, how about taking a different approach? PTMs provide excellent opportunities for teachers and parents to work together to develop the learning capability of a child.” 

Here’s what you should consider when having discussions with your child’s teacher.

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Focus on behaviour, rather than results.

“Results are already clearly displayed on the result slips, and therefore, you would already know how your child has fared in the various subjects. It is important to find out about your child’s learning behaviour in school, because what you see at home may not be what the teacher sees.”

Questions To Ask:

  • How does my child behave in class?
  • Does she participate actively in classroom discussions and group work?
  • Is she able to effectively verbalise her answers?
  • Is she attentive or easily distracted in class?

Learn how your child manages relationships in school.

“Relationship management is a critical work skill, and the developing and mastering of this skill begins in school. As a parent, it is essential to get feedback on how your child is dealing with his peers, as well as his teachers.”

Questions To Ask:

  • Does my child get along well with his peers?
  • Is he able to resolve conflicts independently?
  • Is he comfortable approaching his teachers when he has difficulties or problems?

Identify your child’s strengths and areas for improvement.

“Recognising your child’s strengths enables you to affirm and reinforce them, and understanding your child’s areas for improvement will place you in a better position to seek ways to close these gaps.”

Questions To Ask:

  • Is my child prompt in her work submissions?
  • Is her writing legible?
  • Is she able to complete in-class assignments independently? 

Find out how you can support your child’s learning experience.

“Having identified your child’s areas of improvement, you now need to work with the teacher on suitable ways to help your child.”

Questions To Ask:

  • Do I need to monitor my child’s work more closely at home?
  • What routines can I set up to help him learn better?

Keep the channels of communication open.

“Provide avenues for the teacher to give you feedback about your child’s school performance. This can be via e-mail, text message, or a student journal, just to list a few channels. An open channel of communication will help you set up a monitoring-feedback cycle that will benefit your child.”

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