Parent Teacher Meetings are a great chance to meet the parents of the children in your class. The majority of meetings go smoothly and as expected, however sometimes you might get thrown an unexpected curveball. Here are some of tricky questions/problems and sample answers that might help – obviously they will need to be changed/altered to suit you and the child/children in question but I think its good to have an idea of how to approach/deal with these questions before you meet with the parents.
Bullying is unfortunately a massive issue for many children in primary school. Sometimes you as class teacher are aware that bullying has/is happening in your classroom (or on the yard) and are dealing with it and sometimes you are completely unaware until a parent brings it to your attention.
If a parent says their child is being bullied by another child in the class/school and this is the first time you have heard about it there are some helpful steps to follow. Usually parent teacher meetings are less than 10 minutes in length so you do not have time to get into all the details during this meeting. You also need a chance to monitor the situation yourself. It is perfectly acceptable to give yourself a week or two to check out the situation and see what is happening.
- I’m really sorry that your child feels like this
- Can you tell me what/when this is happening?
- I will monitor the situation for the next 2 weeks and I will get back to you
My child doesn’t like coming to school.
This is another tricky problem – especially when the child may seem to be really happy when they are in school. Ask the parent if they have any ideas why the child doesn’t like coming to school and give examples of the child in school. (This could be that the child doesn’t like getting up in the morning, or it could be a problem that you might have missed.)
This isn’t a problem we have heard of before. He/She isn’t like this at home.
Every parent loves their child and many parents find it very difficult to hear that their child is not behaving appropriately/ not working well in school. It is always important to have specific examples when giving a ‘bad’ report to parents and its also important to use the sandwich approach (good, bad, good) to ensure that the parents don’t just leave with ‘bad’ news.
You will also find that 9 times out of 10 – the child is exactly the same at home and the parents are finding it incredibly difficult to deal with the child’s behaviour but admitting that can be very hard.
I think my child has dyslexia
Only an educational psychologist can diagnose children with dyslexia. It may be appropriate to ask why the parent feels that their child has dyslexia. It may also be appropriate to say that you have also noticed some difficulties that the child is experiencing with reading/writing.
Thank the parent for bringing the issue to your attention and explain that only an educational psychologist can diagnose children and that you would not have the qualification/expertise to do so.
Sometimes these are behaviour problems at school and sometimes they are problems at home (which you were totally unaware of until now.) Sometimes the child in school can be completely different to the child at home.
- State the problem – John is constantly trying to distract other children.
- Give specific examples – Yesterday during our Geography lesson, John poked 3 other children with a pencil when the children were doing independent work. He tried to take another childs copy and then crawled under the table and tried to take other children’s shoes off.
- Share the strategies you used – He was moved to the quiet table at the back of the room to complete his work.
It is really important to be honest about what is happening and state the facts – don’t give opinions.
The parents may share that the child is really not behaving at home and they are finding it difficult to manage. Sometimes the child the parents describe is completely different to the child in class so in this instance it might be helpful to share some of the strategies you use in class; reward chart, 1 step instructions, time out etc.
Parents are very busy – sometimes a child is late, or their homework isn’t signed or they don’t have their tie. However, if this is becoming a persistent problem then you need to share your concerns in a gentle way.