It can be natural for some parents to feel nervous before attending parent-teacher interviews. Be assured, many teachers feel the same way about talking to parents! The interview can be an excellent opportunity to get an overview of your child’s progress in school and get ideas about what you can be doing to better support them. More importantly, it gives parents a chance to get to know the teacher and create a partnership so your child feels valued, connected and develops a sense of belonging, both at home and in the school environment.
Preparing for the interview
Due to time limitations, it would be great to prepare before the interview to ensure everything runs smoothly. Parents can keep a note of any questions or queries they may have so the teacher can clear these doubts.
In fact, you can even have a discussion with your child before attending the interview. Ask them casually about their favourite subject, least favourite subject or if there’s anything they need extra help with. The teacher may suggest some interactive techniques to extend their interests to maximise learning. You can go through your child’s report or textbook to have some background knowledge of the syllabus and check how your child is progressing in all aspects.
What should you talk about?
The meetings are usually very brief and last approximately 5-10 minutes, so it is essential you are on time; being late will result in shorter interviews. Try switching off phones and devices temporarily and giving the teacher your full attention.
You can commence the interview by asking about your child’s progress in class. This is a great conversation starter, and the teacher can then give you feedback about your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If you have any queries about your child’s grades in assessments or report cards, ask the teacher for some guidelines into further improvement. Remember, try not to compare your child with others. Each child has their own unique set of abilities and skills which are exclusive to their personality.
Examples of questions and discussions for children attending primary school:
- Are there any extra curricular activities you recommend for my child?
- Does my child have any trouble focusing on tasks?
- How is my child doing in terms of literacy, reading and writing?
- Does my child contribute to class discussions?
Examples of questions and discussions for children attending high school:
- What mark do you think my child will receive for this subject? How do you think this mark will impact their ATAR?
- How can I help my child be better prepared for the HSC?
- Does my child need a tutor to give more support for specific subjects?
- What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
Listen to the teacher’s feedback and ask how you can extend children’s learning from the classroom to the home environment.
You may have to speak to more than one teacher so it can become quite difficult to recall what the teachers have said after a certain period of time. Consider bringing a notepad and jotting down some quick notes. This will also be beneficial for following-up with your child and teachers later.
Following up post-interview
Be open with your child and discuss the feedback given by teachers. You can create a learning plan and set some goals moving forward. Plan activities in the household which focus on not only the weaknesses but also the child’s strengths.
Additionally, be consistent and check-in with teachers regularly after the interview. It’s essential to create a friendly, open and respectful relationship with teachers to maximise children’s learning outcomes. When communication opportunities are taken care of and nurtured early on, it is easier to approach and address concerns that arise through the rest of the school year.
Research on parent-teacher partnership suggests that a student who knows that the teacher communicates regularly with their parents is more likely to put effort into school. The child will concentrate in lessons and is less likely to be involved in disruptive behaviours. Likewise, a student who knows their parents communicate less with the teacher is likely to do the opposite.
The NSW Government has also put together some preparation tips for parent-teacher interviews so you can gain maximum benefit from this opportunity. This can be accessed via the following link: