Class Act - Tips for Parent Teacher Meetings - Do's and Don'ts

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It is an accepted fact that parents of this generation are far more involved in their wards academic activities than the previous generation. Most schools have a strong and active Parent Teacher association which helps address the grievances faced by parents. Your child’s teachers especially his class teacher is a very important and influential person in his (and your) life.  With a few right moves, you can turn the dreaded PTA meetings to time where you can get helpful insights into your child’s strong points and also ways to help him overcome his weaknesses.  Here are a few suggestions.

While your involvement in school activities is conducive to your child’s success in school, you should be aware of the degree of involvement that is encouraged by your child’s school. You would more likely be helping your child more, not by fighting his school battles for him but by empowering him to fight his own battles.

Don’t treat Parent teacher meetings as a time to run in grab the report card, agree with what ever the teacher says get done with it. Prepare for your child’s PTA as you would for his tests.  Make a list of questions you want to ask the teacher, so that you don’t waste her time. This is the time to address of any doubts regarding your child’s school work or general behavior.  Talk to the teacher about any difficulty your child may be facing at school or at home and strive to arrive at a solution with the teacher.

If your child is facing an issue with a particular teacher, or if you feel that he had been handed out unfair punishment, it is better to hear the whole story before playing the blame game. Start by telling the teacher what your son has been telling you and find out the whole story. It is possible that your son might have omitted a few details or was punished after repeated warnings. This will help both you and the teacher to arrive at a solution rather than bicker and also teach your child the importance of being fair.

If your child is facing a problem with the way a particular teacher is conducting classes, it is better not to get involved unless absolutely necessary.  Instead encourage your child to speak to teacher himself, help him to articulate what he is feeling. So if your child feels that the science teacher is covering the portions too quickly and that he will benefit from some more detailed explanations, ask him to tell his teacher that he is having a problem keeping up with the speed and also ask for suggestions on how he can increase his speed.

Respect the teacher’s time and personal space. Always ask for an appointment in advance rather than barge in at the beginning or end of school. The teacher will respect you more for this polite gesture. Find out how she likes to communicate. Some teachers prefer face to face communication while some others prefer written communications. Respecting her mode of communication ensures that you get a faster response from her.

It is not in good taste to pester your child’s teacher for her personal number. Even if you do have the number it is better to SMS if at all you do need to connect. Also bombarding the teacher with gifts on festival is also frowned upon by most schools. See that you do not nag the teacher constantly with trivial requests like shifting your son’s seat as his neighbor is pestering him, getting extensions on project deadlines etc, Remember that you cannot always do the dirty work for your child, he has to deal with these issues at some time, the sooner the better.

Remember that a teacher is there as a mentor to guide your child, instill values in him and build up his confidence and teach him to make informed decisions, help her do that by stepping into the sidelines gracefully.