Most schools hold parents’ evenings every term, and they’re a very important part of the relationship you develop with your child’s school and their teacher. Whether you’re about to have your first experience of a parents’ evening, or already have several under your belt, we’ve got some suggestions to help make sure you get the most out of the meeting.
Post first published in 2016 and updated November 2023.
Before parents’ evening
Here are some ideas on how to get the most out of meeting with your child’s teacher:
- Check whether or not you should take your child with you, as this varies from school to school.
- You may not see your child’s work at every parents’ evening. Very often the first meeting of the year is all about meeting for the first time and discussing aims and targets for the year.
- Talk to your child and ask how things are going at school. Ask them what they would like you to ask the teacher. Afterwards, tell them how the meeting went, focusing on the positive comments from their teacher.
- Try to come away from the meeting with some positive steps that you, your child, and the teachers will take to help your child succeed.
- If your child is in reception or Key Stage 1, you can familiarise yourself with how reading and maths are taught and assessed in school by taking a look at the following areas of the Oxford Owl website.
- If you have a child in Key Stage 2, you may like to know more about the Year 6 SATs and how your child’s school will be approaching them. Take a look on the Oxford Owl website for:
Getting the most out of parents’ evening
Children can be rather uncommunicative about their life at school once they get to primary school – which can be difficult to adjust to if you were used to a greater level of communication while they were at nursery or pre-school. Parents’ evenings are a great opportunity to get to know their teacher and find out more about time spent in class.
There can be a lot to cover in a ten minute meeting, so write down any key questions to take with you to make sure they don’t get forgotten. It’s a good idea of jot down some notes during the meeting too, especially if your child’s teacher has suggestions for supporting your child at home.
Here are some ideas for questions to ask at your parents’ evening:
- ‘Do they get along with other children and have strong friendship groups?’
- ‘Do they contribute to class discussions?’
- ‘Which area of learning is their strongest and which do they seem to enjoy most?’
- ‘Are they making good progress?’
- ‘What can we do at home to help?’
- ‘Are there any areas where they are not making the progress you’d expect and what additional support are they receiving?’
Occasionally you may be told something that comes as a surprise. Remember that working together with school will be of the greatest benefit to your child and be prepared to hear something you didn’t know about their behaviour in class, or that they’re falling behind in a particular topic. Parents’ evening is an opportunity to share insights about your child, how they respond to other people or situations at home, their approach to homework and more. If either you or your child’s teacher is particularly concerned about an issue, they may suggest arranging a further meeting to create an action plan together – ten minutes at a parents’ evening can go very quickly.
After the meeting
- If some key issues were raised in the meeting, arrange a follow up meeting a few weeks later to discuss progress.
- If you’re unsure of any terms or phrases used by the teacher but didn’t have time to ask, take a look at our educational Jargon Buster on Oxford Owl.
- If there were some areas that were highlighted as needing more support, don’t forget that Oxford Owl has a number of resources aimed to help parents support their children at home
Tips from our readers
Ask your children if there is anything they want to you to ask your teachers on their behalf. I think that way, children feel they are also part of the process in a good way, and they always have some great questions.
Jot down little points on a small paper of what you want to talk to the teacher. Ask them how you can help your child at home reading etc. if he/she has any difficulty in that area.
If you’re unsure of anything or don’t understand, ask for an explanation.
Don’t just focus on what they are doing academically, but find out how they are doing in their social circle. Are they happy? A happy child will learn.