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Why parents, teachers meetings are important

OPINION
By Jacob Asenje | February 10th 2021

At the beginning of a school year, every parent always wonders about their child’s new teacher. Will they understand the child’s individual learning or attention needs? Will they recognise the child’s special talents? Will the year be a successful collaboration between you and your child on the one hand and the teacher on the other?

One way to find answers to these difficult questions is for the parent to meet the child’s teachers. This meeting is an opportunity for the parent(s) to also have a conversation with the teachers about the year ahead and how both parties can support the child in making progress in their learning journey.

To get the most out of your meeting, the following steps are recommended to make your child feel less anxious. First, speak to your child before your meeting and make him/her feel at ease.

Let them understand that the meeting is not meant to criticise them but to get to know their teacher better. Also, make the child feel less anxious about the meeting through having an open and honest discussion beforehand. Share with them your impressions of their teacher, school and friends and ask them to do the same. Speak openly and freely to put their mind at ease.

Explain to your child why it is necessary to build a relationship with their teacher. This is fundamental to building their future at school. Teachers and parents play a vital role in the holistic development of the child. Parents are the first mentors and teachers the second. 

They should know that both parents and teachers want the best for them and will assist them in acquiring skills to mould them into the best individuals they can be.

In addition, a good relationship between a child and teachers helps teachers to nurture children’s learning and give them various experiences to face our challenging world. Teachers mould them to be responsible and independent learners. They are also the first from whom a child learns social skills in school. An open-minded and well-balanced teacher has a great power to bring positive change in a child’s development. 

Before the meeting, find out what your child would like you to address and refer to specifics, such as school activities, classroom layout, classroom and school policies so that you can be as clear as possible when you talk to the teacher.

That way, you make the child feel that they are part of the meeting you are about to have. Let the child open up on the specific areas they would like you to address with their teacher. These may include: Rules as stipulated in the school diary, meals, classroom layout, games and sports being offered, school trips and outings, exhibitions and other important events within the school.

Regarding the co-curricular programme, discuss beforehand what activities they would like to participate in and then discuss with the teacher the specific guidelines and rules of how to go about becoming part of a specific team. Children who lack interest in co-curricular activities should be counseled accordingly.

It is also important to be well prepared to talk honestly about your child. 

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The teacher might want to discuss your child’s behaviour, personality and interests outside of school. If the questions seem intrusive or personal, ask the teacher to explain. More often than not, such questions enable the teacher to better understand your child.

In addition, the discussion should include specific challenges affecting your child’s learning. These may include difficulties such as dyslexia, or other conditions that may require more individual teacher attention. Let the teacher explain to you in detail the personality traits of your child as observed during class interactions. Is your child an introvert or an extrovert? How does this personality affect his/her learning? On your side as a parent, open up about the personality of your child and discuss with the teacher about your child’s emotional behaviour and interests and how you manage them at home. 

Remember that transparency is key.

Be forthright about what’s happening at home that could possibly have an effect on your child’s emotional well-being at school. Let the teacher know about any medical conditions (such as asthma or allergies), emotional difficulties (such as a new sibling in the house) or sensitive information (such as a pending divorce). The home environment can adversely affect a child’s performance in school.

The child may develop low self-esteem and feel withdrawn as a result of the happenings at home. Making the teacher aware about these circumstances is vital.

With this information, the teacher will be able to manage your child in the best way possible and also offer psychosocial support. How you discuss the teachers at home will also impact and either paint a positive or negative image about their school experience. Always engage your child in a positive way. 

Conducting effective parent-teacher meetings can boost family involvement in the classroom and help promote positive outcomes for you, your child and the school.

Keep in mind that you all have the same goal; to support your child’s development into a well-rounded person and to succeed in school. 

-Mr Asenje is deputy Head teacher of Makini Upper Middle School

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