As it is half term and many of us have just had Parents’ Evening, we thought we’d discuss parental interaction with schools and teachers.
Thinking about our own childhood, we are old enough to remember when these biannual chats between parents and teachers were, for most families, the only chance to find out what was going on behind the closed doors of school. Were their darling children on course to become Astro physicists or captains of industries as surely this was their destiny? I can remember well the feeling of dread, when I heard mum and dad’s car draw up outside and the key turn slowly in the lock. Those first five seconds were crucial; mum’s face always gave the game away – a pat on the back or an hour’s diatribe about the importance of one’s education?
However, these days, it seems as though there has been a significant increase in the opportunities for communication between parents and schools. Our secondary school’s recent introduction of a homework app has been a godsend to us and the looks on our elder daughters’ faces were priceless; the realisation dawning that this would mean true transparency in their after-school studies. We’ve also used our Zoom led Parents’ Evening to understand gaps in our Year 6’s efforts; she is doing well but the teacher noted a ‘challenge’ with joined up writing which could affect her SATs scores later in the year. So (very reluctantly!) she has been using a handwriting practice book for a few minutes each day over half term. From academic progression to friendship issues or worse, having a good relationship with schools is so important.
Is there a line though where engagement with the school becomes too much ? If we are honest, who hasn’t seen out the corner of their eye, a fellow parent talking intently to a teacher and wondered just what they are talking about? I’ve been in schools where one or two parents have actively sought to influence the school subtly or otherwise – something along the lines of “it would help little Jonny’s confidence so much if he could play centre forward in the first team and by the way it was so nice to see your parents at the Smith’s house party last weekend”. Lo and behold Jonny takes his place at the next game even though he couldn’t hit a barn door with a football! I’m exaggerating slightly but these things do go on. However, in my experience, for every teacher who will be influenced by some form of parental coercion most won’t; teachers are only human and so rather than help it may hinder the very thing a parent is looking to achieve.
Like everything, balance is important and, especially in these challenging times, it’s so important that schools, teachers and parents work together in unison. This is an area I feel strongly about so if you need any support or advice I’d be only too happy to help. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try and give a parent and a school perspective!
Lastly, for a bit of fun, here are my top Parents’ Evening phrases and what they really mean.
• Bob is an excellent communicator = a motor mouth and will just not shut up
• Emma is always so enthusiastic = an absolute pain in the backside
• Fred is a born leader = extraordinarily bossy and needs to wind his neck in
• Hannah has been exhibiting some challenging behaviour = is making my life a misery
• Ali is ‘working towards’ sitting still in class = refuses to sit on her bottom – EVER!
• Jim takes a keen interest in what is going on around him = head swivels around like a tornado and is more interested in what the caretaker is doing outside than in area and perimeter.