In Malaysia public schools, the parent-teacher conference is typically held once a year, usually in the middle of the year after the mid term exams. Some schools have one or two exams before this meet. During the meeting, the teacher will handover your child's report card and you may have a short chat about your child's progress in school.
Be mindful that some schools have up to 40-50 students per class so the teacher may not have that much time to chat with you. She or he may appear curt or rushed but that is to be expected. However, many teachers actually handle it really well. They are calm and professional and you should be too. Do dress appropriately for the occasion. I have seen many parents coming in shorts and tees. I think that is a tad too casual for a parent-teacher conference. While you should not rush out to buy the latest outfit or dress up to the nines, it would be respectful of the teacher and the school for you to pay extra attention to your outfit. That is my humble opinion.
Remember, your time is short so be prepared. Plan ahead.
Here is a checklist of 20 Questions You Should Ask During A Parent-Teacher Conference to help you along.
- How is my child's academic progress in school?
- Is he passing up homework on time?
- Is my child a slow learner or fast learner?
- Is she able to catch up with what is being taught in school?
- Do you think he or she needs extra help outside of school eg. extra tuition?
- Can you recommend any extra books (reference books or story books) that will be useful for my child?
- How is my child's behaviour in school?
- Is he able to mix around with friends? / Does she get along with her friends?
- Is she quiet or talkative?
- Is she able to take instructions well? /How does she behave with teachers? Timid or otherwise?
- Is he well behaved?
- Is she helpful?
- What is my child's strengths and weaknesses?
- How can I help my child to open up? (if shy) or How can I help my child to calm down?
- Can you tell me a little bit more about the school syllabus?
- Will there be any changes in the syllabus that I need to know of?
- How much time should my child be spending on homework?
- What can I do to help my child do better in school?
- What can I do to support his academic performance in school?
- How can we communicate? Is there a whatsapp group, email or phone number or do you prefer to communicate via the school communication book?
You may not have a lot of time to ask questions so these are just guidelines to help you. I feel that question no. 8 is important to weed out and nip in the bud any bullying issues. Question 18 is probably the most important because you want to work with the teacher to bring out the best in your child. Don't forget to ask question 20 as well. You will need to stay in touch with your child's teacher.
Lastly here are a few things you should take note of during the parent-teacher conference.
What Not To Do During A Parent-Teacher Conference
- Don't be late
- Don't accuse, especially if you have something you want to bring up
- Don't be defensive if teacher brings up something negative about your child. You want to work towards problem solving and helping your child, not damage relationships with your child's teacher
- Don't hog the teacher's time. There is a whole line of parents waiting for their turn
Besides academic performance, the parent-teacher conference is an important gauge of your child's behaviour in school which may be very different from his or her behaviour at home. The best person who knows this is his or her teacher. So have a good chat with the teacher. If there is something you wish to bring up to the teacher, for example an issue about homework or friends, this may be a good time to bring it up but do not accuse or hog her time. Be polite and tactful.
If your child is weak in one or two subjects, you may request to meet up with the subject teachers on this day as well. When meeting subject teachers, you may want to limit your questions on the areas of weaknesses and what you can do at home to help improve your child in that subject as well as ask the teacher for recommendations for reading material.
Here is wishing you a fruitful Parent-Teacher Conference. Don't forget to thank the teacher.