At this time of year many schools hold parents’ evenings offering the opportunity to meet with teachers and get a face-to-face update on progress. These can be both uplifting and challenging experiences in equal measure. It is important to plan your time carefully to ensure maximum benefit with least pain.

Here are a few tips for parents which may help.
Speak to your child in advance. Ask about challenges they may be experiencing. Using their last school report can be a useful reference for discussion. If your time is limited, focus on key areas such as Maths, Science and English.

If your child is responsible for arranging your appointment schedule, make sure they book appointments with all teachers and not just the ones who will be full of praise. It is very tempting to use this as an opportunity to hear about areas of triumph; however it is just as important to find out where they may be struggling and discuss what could be done to offer support.

Prioritise time with their tutor, head of year or houseparent, as relevant. They will have a good overview of progress in all academic areas as well as socially and across the value-added curriculum. They will be able to make suggestions as to the important teachers for you to see and what you might discuss with them.

If no booking system is in place, queues can be long. If two parents are able to attend, perhaps divide to conquer. Take notes for reference afterwards.

If parents are no longer together, make an effort to put differences aside in support of your child’s educational benefit. If this is not possible, ask the school if separate appointments are an option to avoid difficulties.

Appointments are short so put the time to best use. If your child is struggling, ask the key reasons why and how you might offer them support at home, as well as what the school might be doing to assist. If you do not get the opportunity to finish your conversation with a particular teacher, make arrangements to meet on another day, so you can continue your discussion.

Spend time with your child afterwards. Give plenty of praise for areas where they’re doing well. Discuss areas that are not going so well and discuss strategies to remedy this, as well as encouraging them to ask for help when needed.

Goal setting will be a useful exercise to measure the success of any strategies you have agreed to address areas of difficulty.