How to deal with parents' evening continued

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How to deal with a difficult teacher

Be diplomatic, says headmaster Andrew Smetham. Don't tackle the teacher concerned but speak to the head of year and explain exactly what the problem is. Avoid vague statements such as, 'He's always making fun of my son.' Instead, go for specifics: 'On Monday, he held up my son's work in front of the class as an example of how not to do it.'

Talk about homework

Is your child doing enough and is it up to scratch? This is your chance to let the teacher know how long your child is spending on homework every evening. Maybe this is the time for you and the teacher to work together to make sure your child is getting the most out of that time.

Be friendly

You need your child's teachers to be on your side and it won't help your child if they think you're difficult or hostile. But also maintain eye contact to show you mean business. Don't overstay your welcome, get to the point and move on. You'll irritate the teacher if you keep repeating yourself and it's not fair on other parents waiting.

Work as a team

If you go with your partner, don't fight over who will ask the questions. And if you've split up, don't use the evening as another battleground.

What to ask

1. What are my child's weakest and strongest areas?
2. How can you help him improve? (In other words: You're the teacher, please do something.)
3. What can we do at home? For example, supervising homework, reading with her, going to exhibitions.
4. How does my child behave in class? Is he too quiet or too chatty? Some children can be quiet at home but act the fool at school to cover inadequacies.
5. How does my child compare with others in the class? Asking that doesn't mean you're being competitive, it just helps you to know the score.

Talk to the kids

Some secondary schools give you the option to take your child along. It can work well because he can then have his say. If you can't do this, spend time afterwards with your kids, going over what happened. Kids can feel threatened by parents' evenings, so reassure them and stress the positive. But also use the opportunity to work out how you can solve any problems.

Continued below...

Legally, schools have to hold at least one parents' evening a year. But if you don't feel that's enough, speak to the head teacher or write to the governors. A good school will always find time for teachers to speak to you individually if you're worried about something.

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  1. 1. How to deal with parents' evening
  1. 2. How to deal with parents' evening continued

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