School is your first point of contact for information, help and support for your child. Ideally, you should see yourself and school as part of the ‘team’ supporting your child.
1. Always try to make an appointment to see a teacher, rather than having a conversation at either end of the day when the teacher might have other things to focus on. This also gives the teacher time to prepare.
2. Be prepared! Note down what is happening with your child at home, what their specific difficulties are and what they are saying about school. It might be useful to keep a diary so that you have examples. Note down the questions you have and the issues you want to be resolved.
3. Consider whether it would be helpful and appropriate for your child to be part of your discussions with school.
4. Keep the relationship professional. Emphasise that you want to work as a team and be patient and understanding that the teacher has other children in the class with their own needs. That said, teachers find it enormously helpful to meet the parents of their students. You might ask questions like:
- How long is homework supposed to take?
- How long should we spend learning spellings?
- How does your child compare to others in the classroom on reading, writing etc?
- What progress is your child making?
- What can you do at home to help your child? Ask for specific activities you can do.
- Ask for information about new topics so that you can help your child prepare.
5. Take notes of what was said and date these. If you can, see the teacher with a second person; they can help you to remember everything.
6. Arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss the outcomes of actions you have agreed between you, perhaps at the end of the half term or about six weeks later. Or arrange to have a notebook of comments and questions to pass between you.
7. Try to keep any arrangement low-key so that your child does not feel singled out. Avoid criticising school in front of your child.
8. If you think your child is being bullied, seek urgent help from school.
Why not join our Parents’ HELP Course where we have a session that deals with working with school?