17: Parents’ Evening

As a foster carer it is important that you attend parents’ evenings. It may be that your child’s parents may also want to attend but schools will try to be flexible and may offer to see you at separate sessions to avoid possible tension.

If you and your partner can attend together, your child’s teacher will know that you’re both involved in their education. If you are going alone you could consider a good friend along  so that you feel more confident and afterwards you can discuss what your child’s teacher said. Your child will be aware that parent’s evening is coming so ask them how things are going at school and what they would like you to ask their teacher. You could consider taking a note book to write your questions down and make a note of the answers. If the teacher is running late having the questions written down will help you to keep focussed on the important points.

If this is the first parents’ evening you’ve attended for a while, you may be unsure exactly what you can ask. Here are a few pointers:

  • What are their strengths?
  • Are there any concerns about their academic progress or behaviour?
  • Are there any areas in which you think they could improve?
  • What are they like in class?
  • Do they enjoy playtimes? Do they always play with the same children?
  • What extra-curricular activities could they get involved in? How do they join?
  • How do they get on with the other children?
  • Do they join in with group activities?
  • Do they have a particular talent / personal qualities (not just academic – e.g generous, sense of humour)
  • What can I do to help with my child’s learning when we’re at home?
  • Is there anything you’d like to know about what my child is like at home?

How can I make the most of parents’ evening?

Focus on your child: Parents’ evening is your chance to get a detailed report on your child’s progress and behaviour in school. You may only get a short time with your child’s teacher. If you have questions about general school policies, call the school office or check the website instead.

If you have specific concerns, raise them with your child’s teacher. You know your child better than anyone, so take the initiative.

The first parents’ evening is your chance to get to know your child’s teachers. If you have a friendly relationship, it may make it easier to talk about concerns that arise during the school year. Listen to what she or he has to say before you ask your questions.

Ask about friendships as well as schoolwork: How well your child fits in socially can have an effect on how well he learns. Ask the teacher whether your child always plays with the same children. Perhaps your child has made some new friends. Ask whether the teacher has any concerns about how your child gets along with others. They will also be able to tell you how your child joins in with classroom discussions.

Tell the teacher about significant changes at home. If there’s been upheaval in your house, let them know; a new baby, a divorce, a house move or a death in the family can affect the way your child behaves in the classroom.

Plan what to do next. Before the meeting ends, find out how you can follow up any discussions you have had. Should you schedule another meeting? If your work means you can’t get to school during the day, can you arrange a phone call? Ask your child’s teacher how you can ask any other questions you might think of after you’ve got home.

What should happen after parents’ evening?

Tell your child how it went, making sure that the first thing you do is pass on any praise and positive comments. If there are areas of concern, discuss these after you’ve told your child all the good things their teacher has said.

If your child had a specific question, or had any concerns they wanted you to speak about, tell them what the teacher said and explain what you and the teacher decided to do. Following up like this gives your child a sense that they have been heard and that you take their concerns seriously.

Stay in touch with the teacher. It’s fine to talk to your teacher before the next parents’ evening if you need to. Maybe you will get the chance for a brief word with your child’s teacher at drop-off or pick-up time. If you cannot get to school at those times, arrange a phone call.

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