A new study claims that parents get an average of less than 13 minutes to discuss their child’s work at school! Here are some tips on how to find out more.
Often it’s hard to get anything out of your kids about what they did at school other than ‘can’t remember’. However, even if we don’t want to be ‘pushy’ it’s still important to be involved in how our children are progressing at school so we can support them at home.
A recent survey carried out on behalf of Leapfrog early learning toys found that the majority of UK parents were allocated an average of less than 13 minutes to meet with their child’s teacher at parents evening or ‘parent consultation sessions’. In addition, more than half went home feeling they still did not have a clear understanding of how their child was doing at school.
In addition to this, a third of UK parents only get one parents’ evening invitation a year, with as many as a third of fathers preferring to leave it to mums to attend the meeting, despite the fact that 53% of the 2000 mums and dads polled said they would appreciate more feedback from their children’s schools.
Parents’ evening – do your homework!
Currently, about 79% of parents arrive at parents evening appointments without a list of prepared notes or questions for their child’s teacher. With access being so limited, it’s definitely worth planning ahead.
• Make a note of any concerns or questions you have. Don’t just think about negatives, consider your child’s reading level and ask if there are other books you have at home which might be suitable, or enquire about other activities you could be doing to enhance your child’s learning.
• Don’t forget that your child’s teachers want the pupils to do as well as they can – they are on your side! Some teachers might be more direct about what you can do to help but always show your enthusiasm for supporting their work at home, this might well draw out more suggestions.
• Find out more. Ask if your child’s school has a website. This will help build a better picture for you about how the curriculum works. More and more schools do have their own sites and these often post up what the timetable for each class looks like, helping you to prepare your child for each day. It will also give you a good steer on how your child is likely to be at home – a day that ends with double PE is probably not the best evening to tackle a mound of homework!
• The survey Leapfrog carried out highlighted that more than half of the parents polled would be happy with emailed reports and feedback. Get more involved yourself, going to parent teacher association meetings, for example, to find out if your child’s school has the facilities or resources for other methods of communication. Your feedback and interest will encourage your child’s school to do more. If they need more funds then being part of an engaged parenting community that raises money through fun events could be a major part of the school’s future ability to communicate better.
• Don’t forget that your teachers aren’t just available to speak to once a year. Check out our SuperSavvy article How to talk to your child’s school if you have questions that won’t wait for parents evening.
• Dr Janine Spencer, child development specialist at Brunel University has worked with Leapfrog and drawn up some useful tips to getting more from parents evening. You can download the guide at leapfrog.co.uk