Helping out at school is a great way to get involved in your child’s education as well as get to know the staff and other parents and carers.
Research shows that children benefit when their parents or carers are actively involved in their education and school life.
You can help by
- listening to children read in the classroom
- volunteering on sports days
- helping supervise excursions
- getting involved in fundraising activities
- joining school committees
Parent-teacher interviews provide an important opportunity to discuss your child’s progress with their teachers.
Here are some tips to get the best out of your time with the teacher.
Arrange for an interpreter if needed
If you need an interpreter, let us know before the interview. Call 131 450 and ask for an interpreter in your language. The operator will get an interpreter on the line to help you. This service is free.
Do your homework
Take a few minutes before the meeting to jot down any questions or comments you have. Common questions may include:
- How is my child fitting in with other children?
- What are the children working on now?
- Is there anything about my child’s needs that I should know?
- Does my child ask questions, participate in class discussions and other activities?
- Is my child’s progress satisfactory?
- What activities does my child seem to enjoy the most at school?
- Who are my child’s friends?
- Does my child join in with other children in the playground?
- What kinds of things will the class be doing over the next few weeks?
- How is my child progressing in comparison to others in the year?
- Is there anything I can be doing to help my child at home?
- Do you have any concerns about my child?
- What is the best time and way to contact you if I have a concern?
Also, list anything that might be happening at home that may be helpful for your child’s teacher to know. If your child has seen a specialist for example, there may be some information that is important for the teacher or the school counsellor to know.
Go with a positive attitude
Approach the interview with a positive and relaxed attitude. Remember you and the teacher are partners in your child’s learning. Be clear and confident in raising any concerns and allow the teacher to answer or clarify your questions and worries.
Teachers want to help students achieve their best – you’re on the same team.
Walk away with an agreed plan
If the teacher raises issues about your child’s learning, development or behaviour, your goal will be to understand the plan to manage that during the school day and how you can help at home.
For example, if your child is struggling to pay attention in class, a behaviour diary which travels between class and home every day may be a good suggestion. The idea is the teacher updates you with a short, written account of your child’s day, so you can discuss it with your child each evening.
Ask the teacher what sort of strategies they have in mind and how you can help.
Plan to communicate
The parent-teacher interview is not the only time you can discuss your child with the teacher, but many parents and carers find it’s their only opportunity to visit the school. Ask the teacher how you can best communicate with each other in the future. Many teachers make appointments to see or call you outside of school hours. Others find email works well.
Between 8:30am and 3:30pm is non-stop for teachers, and their primary responsibility each day is to teach their students. Teachers can’t leave their class unattended to talk with you so it’s best to come up with a plan to stay in touch.
After the interview
It’s important to discuss the meeting with your child and really congratulate them on their strengths. If the teacher made suggestions of things you could do at home, discuss these with your child and commit to following through with them.
It can be easier to approach the teacher or the principal when you feel part of the school community. Volunteer if you can, or stay connected on social media or online.
Don’t let issues brew
Stay in touch with the teacher and the school. Make contact if a concern arises before or after the parent-teacher interviews. Let the teacher know what your concern is so they can prepare for your conversation. For example if you’re worried your child isn’t making friends, the teacher may want to observe them in the playground before you talk. Or if you’re concerned your child isn’t performing as well as expected, the teacher may want to check last year’s notes, talk to colleagues or review assessment results.
If there’s something happening at home with your child or another family member, it can affect your child’s learning and behaviour at school, so please let the school know.
Get to know child’s year adviser
Once your child is in high school, the year adviser is a great point of contact when you have a question or problem that’s not specific to one subject area. For example if your child doesn’t seem to be on top of their homework (or says they’re not getting any homework) the year adviser would be the person to call. They can have a chat with the teachers involved and get back to you.
The same goes with social problems your child may be having. Year advisers try to get to know all ‘their’ kids on a more personal level and can keep an eye on how your child is progressing.
Seeking more help
If you’ve talked to the teacher and still aren’t satisfied with the outcome, you can always make an appointment to discuss your concerns with the head teacher, year adviser, assistant principal, deputy or principal. You can bring a support person with you to any meeting at the school. If you need the help of an interpreter, let them know when you make the appointment, so they can arrange to have someone on the phone or at the meeting to help you.