Like so many things we once took for granted, parent-teacher interviews feel different in light of COVID. We’ve had to take a large part of our children’s learning into our own hands, and we ourselves have learned a lot in the process.
Did you notice your child struggling with something that surprised you during homeschooling, or pick up on when they are most easily distracted? All of these habits (read: annoyances) are perfect fodder for your next parent-teacher interview – all you need to do is keep them in mind.
Peak performance expert Dr Adam Fraser recently studied how parents’ attitudes toward their children’s teachers have changed after COVID, and the results may or may not surprise you.
A whopping 91% of the 1000 parents of primary school children surveyed for the study reported a greater level of respect for their kids’ teachers following lockdown, with 96.6% saying they felt supported by their child’s school during homeschooling.
“2020 has been a tough year for everyone, and as a father of two young girls, I can attest to how hard it’s been for children specifically too,” says Dr Fraser. “This data highlights that even through these difficult times, parents and teachers have done an extraordinary job in making students feel supported.
“With many wondering if another more widespread lockdown is looming, it’s crucial that parents and teachers prepare their children for new struggles that may come their way, so they are more equipped than they first were back in March.”
There is no better way to connect with your child’s teacher than through a parent-teacher interview, but before you start a formal discussion, you’ll need to chat to your child first.
“Have an open dialogue, without judgement, and talk to them about their feelings around school and COVID,” says Dr Fraser. “If they didn’t do so well last term, ask what they will improve on next time? This type of conversation stops your child feeling like they are being judged and criticised, instead focusing their mind on how they can get better.”
Armed with information from your child, it’s time to connect with their teacher to see how you can work together to better support your child’s learning. In saying that, however, Dr Fraser emphasises the importance of letting your child’s teacher do the actual teaching.
“You can (and should!) thank your child’s teacher and point out what you thought they did really well during COVID, telling them how you appreciate what they do and how hard the job is, but the key thing is to let the teachers teach,” says Dr Fraser. “Our study found schools have shown us that when everyone gets out of their way they do an amazing job, but parents often fall into the trap of micro-managing our teachers.
“We have found that communication between teachers and parents has been occurring more frequently, so going forward, this is a practice that should continue.”
Whether you’ve got a parent-teacher interview scheduled or you would like to arrange one yourself, keep the following key interview questions in mind…
- How is my child going in this subject or class?
- What are their interests and strengths?
- What does my child struggle with?
- Do you have any concerns about their learning?
- How much homework should my child be doing every night?
- What can I do at home to help my child with schoolwork?
- What can you tell me about my child’s behaviour in class?
- How is my child getting along with other students?
- What support services are available for my child at this school?
- Finally, if you do have suggestions, use the ‘two stars and wish’ technique: tell them two things you are happy with and make one suggestion.