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How to survive parents evening

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Are you wondering how to survive parents evening or dreading it as much as your child? I had a parents’ evening last week, and it was something of an eye-opener. I expected to hear wondrous tales and anecdotes about my little angel’s performance – how she was three years ahead with her reading ability, how she had da Vinci-style artistic talent, and how she was the most popular girl in class. But instead of this, I was totally unprepared for what I heard – I will not go into detail, but it was somewhat the opposite of what I was hoping for.

Teachers dread it too!

I have a good friend who’s a primary school teacher, and she tells me teachers dread parents’ evenings as much as the parents. And this is because everybody wants to hear how well a child is doing – no one wants to learn that their child is a nuisance, behind with their reading, and disruptive in class. This can make parents’ evening a stressful and occasionally confrontational night, as surprised parents learn the truth about their child.how to survive parents evening

It made me realise that preparation is key when it comes to these crucial events on the school calendar, and I shall certainly be doing my homework before the next one.

Talk to your child

I didn’t tell my little girl that I was going to a parents’ evening, but now I wish I had. Before you go, talk to your child about their favourite and worst subjects. Find out what they enjoy doing, and where they think they’re doing well – this goes a long way to preventing any unwanted surprises. Also ask your child if there’s anything they would like you to talk to teacher about, such as bullying, or homework loads – sometimes a child may not want to go to a teacher on their own, and they may be reluctant to tell you of any problems unless you ask.

Think positively

Nobody likes to hear somebody else criticising their child, but don’t go to the parents’ evening with a closed, negative mind. If you go feeling positive, it will help you feel less nervous, and it will also put your child’s teacher at ease. And of course it’s difficult to hear your child isn’t working to their full potential, but it’s also difficult for the teacher to tell you this as well. A few smiles and reassuring words go a long way to making the process more pleasant.

Take it on the chin

If there are negative aspects to your child’s behaviour and performance, don’t flare up or get agitated – ask how you can help, and nip it in the bud, so you can solve the problem quickly. Bad behaviour needs tackling straightaway.

A two-way conversation

Parents’ evening is a two-way dialogue, and there could be situations at home affecting your child’s behaviour. This can include marital problems or a new sibling. Tell the teacher about such issues so they can adapt accordingly. Don’t be confrontational, don’t blame the teacher, and do resolve to work together to improve the situation.

Teachers are a dab hand at sugaring the pill, so listen out for any of the following phrases:how to survive parents evening

  •  ‘Finds it difficult to focus’: This translates as ‘Can’t stare at the blackboard for more than one second before being distracted by others’
  • ‘Conscientious’: This means your child tries hard.
  • ‘Will not participate in group discussions’: Generally, this means your child is shy, and doesn’t speak out in class.
  • ‘Needs to develop a better sense of responsibility’: If you hear this, you’re being told that your child is immature, and needs too much prompting from teacher.

And whatever you do, do not be tempted to skip parents’ evening – this is a vital part of your child’s schooling, and if their development is starting to veer off the rails, you need to be there to help them get back on track. But on the other hand, you may attend parents’ evening and discover your child is excelling in all areas, in which case, you can give yourself a big pat on the back. Here’s hoping, eh?





About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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