Most preschools in Singapore hold Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTC) up to two times a year. This kind of meeting provides opportunities for parents to connect with their child’s teachers and find out more, first-hand, about how they can work together for the better of the kids.
However, many parents get stuck at this point and are not sure what questions they can ask to get a full picture of how their children have been coping in school. With this, some parents may not make the most of the parent-teacher meeting.
Ultimately, the teacher is there to work hand-in-hand with you to the best of your children’s abilities, and to support your children in whatever ways they can. Understanding that the teachers only want the best for your children and asking the right questions can help you to focus your attention on home support that is crucial to the development of your children.
Here are some questions that you can ask your children’s teachers to find out more about their progress and development in preschool.
1. How do you think my child has progressed over the year?
The objective of this question is not just focused on academic progress but also the emotional and behavioural progress of your children.
Whether there is a significant positive or negative change in your children in either aspect, by asking this question, you are opening the conversation to discuss the smallest changes your children’s teachers may witness in them.
Celebrate your children’s smallest successes but also prepare yourself to support them through any fallback they may experience along the way.
2. What do you think my child’s strengths and weaknesses are?
Children are very interesting creatures with varying strengths and weaknesses, much like adults are too.
In different social settings, especially without parents around, they often display skills that you may not have the opportunity to witness at home. Here, you are looking for an answer that will help to foster a sense of accomplishment in your children when you discover the inner strengths that they display when they are in preschool.
Are your children’s teachers able to adequately explain the strengths and weaknesses by providing specific examples that you can relate to?
When it comes to explaining the weaknesses that your children display, how does the teacher overcome such traits in the classroom?
Can the teacher offer you some techniques that you can use at home?
While it is important to acknowledge your children’s efforts in their strengths, it is equally necessary to work on their weaknesses with them without emphasising that it is a bad thing. After all, this is always a work in progress for everyone.
3. How is my child doing socially in kindergarten?
During the parent-teacher meeting, you can find out if your children get along with their classmates and if they have friends in class.
Fostering positive relationships with their peers is a quintessential social skill to have in preschool; this provides the security your children will feel as they progress in their learning journey, knowing that they have friends to play with.
Social skills are important tools that children develop and hone over these years – and they will be even more important when they move into primary school, with bigger class sizes.
This is a good time to find out if there are any social issues that your child may be facing so that you can nip the issue in the bud. Further, if you do not already know, you can use this opportunity to find out who your children hang out with in preschool. This gives you a chance to engage in a meaningful conversation at home to find out more about their buddies and it provides some insight into their friendship development with their peers.
4. What do these assessment results mean?
Many preschools in Singapore deliver a rubric to parents that show milestones with achievement goals such as “in progress”, “developing”, “achieved”, “proficient”, etc. You may see some boxes being ticked but you have no idea how to base your children’s progress on these boxes, or you may not understand what exactly “developing” entails.
During the parent-teacher meeting, ask the teacher to explain it to you so that you have a better idea on whether your children are performing up to their standards. A high score does not necessarily mean your children are good in every aspect that has been tested, so having a good knowledge of the rubrics will allow you to guide your children in the areas where they need more support.
5. How can I help you to support my child at home?
Home support is key to a child’s success at school. Ending your parent-teacher meeting with this question gives the teachers a positive feeling that you are receptive to the feedback that is provided during the session.
Show the teachers that you are willing to work with them for the better of your children and you can be sure that the teachers, in turn, would be happy to share more about their development in future.
As most PTC sessions are conducted in a very tight timeframe, remember that you may not accomplish asking all the important questions you want answers to. Rather than waiting until the parent-teacher conference to find out about your children’s progress, keep an open dialogue with your children’s teachers from the start of the school year.
If there are any pressing issues to be addressed, the teachers should already have informed you prior to the PTC so use the time you are given at the session wisely. Sensitive issues pertaining to your children should not be discussed in front of them. If your children are attending the conference along with you, ensure that they are sat separately from you and the teacher when you need to discuss something that is of concern.
It would also benefit you greatly as you walk through those doors with an open mind and know that your children’s teachers also only want the best for them. A defensive attitude will only serve to do more damage to your children’s development.
Listen with an open heart and a positive mindset. Your children may amaze you in ways you have never thought of so this session could be a fruitful and meaningful one for both of you.
Written by Danielle Hee