It's that time of year again - the one where the adults of this family stand around for a very long time waiting to spend a mere ten minutes, if we're lucky, hearing about how our children are doing at school.
On the one hand, I love parents' evening. After all, who doesn't like to sit and chat exclusively about all of our favourite subjects - our beloved children? Plus, we value education highly and want to be as supportive as possible.
But on the other hand I do think the system needs tweaking slightly. I now look on these evenings as quite a tortuous process. Here's what to expect at these fun events.
- Appointments run over-time. It is a very strict teacher who manages to run his or her appointments to schedule. I think the ones who do need a huge hug or at the very least a bottle of wine. It is obviously tricky to do but one that I know I'd appreciate hugely.
- Some schools like the children to attend. I've found this to be when they get to secondary school. It is hugely beneficial to have the teacher tell your errant child that yes, homework is important and needs to be completed rather than you nagging them. Again.
- Different evenings, different reasons. Usually when there is a parents' evening early in the school year you don't get to see any work or all the subject teachers. This consultation is mainly a "how are they settling in" one. Still important to attend though.
- Airing niggles. It's a two-way process so if you have any niggles, that are seemingly too trivial for an after-school meeting, now's the time to tell the teacher; they always prefer to know.
- Teachers are human. Remember it's a long day for them, so if they start to go off on a tangent about how anti-SATS tests they are, or your elder child who's long since left the school guide them back onto the correct subject. If you get no joy, book an after-school appointment.
- The consultation will hopefully be pleasant. After, all if there are any major concerns, the school should have alerted you sooner. So, fingers crossed, it will be all good news.
- Privacy. There won't be any, or not at secondary level anyway as teachers and parents are crammed into the hall and in classrooms cheek by jowel. Don't worry though, you'll be so intent on what the teacher is saying (after all, you've waited long enough to hear it) that you won't notice or hear the other parents and I think it's probably the same for them.
- Be prepared. However, especially if you are seeing a lot of teachers at secondary level, there will be one that will make you think your parenting or your home life isn't quite up to scratch, no matter how well your child is performing. There will hopefully be a nugget of information in there so use that and discard the rest. You know how wonderful you and your family are.