When you only have ten or fifteen minutes to formally review all those hours of learning how do you possibly fit it in? And how do you remember everything you've rushed through when you get home later that evening? Now I am one to talk (literally) because I always go over my allotted time with my girls' teachers. It's such a precious moment and you want to understand everything and cherish all the positive bits.
This is the first important point though. Your children's teacher will always be available throughout the year to discuss any concerns or questions you have - you just have to ask and they will guide you. They may direct you to some information evenings coming up, some guidance on the website or book a slot in with you at a mutually suitable time. If you have a long list of questions you want to ask; parents' evening is not the best time.
Tip number 1 - Come to parents' evening with no more than three questions/areas you want to discuss.
Do come with some questions though. Sometimes parents' evening springs upon us and we find ourselves sitting blankly in front of the teacher not sure what to ask and you know that half an hour later you'll be kicking yourself for not discussing that important thing! So it's a good idea to do a little preparation.
Tip number 2 - Chat with your child about school, their teacher, their learning, their goals before parents' evening.
Your child can give you the best insight into what's happening in the classroom. Is there anything that they are concerned about? What are they really enjoying? What do they think their next goals are? Make some notes on what your child said. It's really nice to see if these align with the feedback from the teacher and there may be areas that you can fill each other in on.
Tip number 3 - Look for evidence of progress
Progress is measured in different ways across schools now following recent curriculum changes and so the way your school is demonstrating progress may have changed. Ask about this if it is not clear and find out what the next steps are for your child to reach the next targets.
Tip number 4 - Look through your child's workbooks
The best way to see evidence of progress is to look through your children's books and compare work from the beginning of term to now. Read the teacher's comments and see if any there are any themes e.g. are they often running out of time, are there areas that they clearly don't understand. Note down anything you want to look at with your child at home. If you don't have time on the evening ask to take the books home overnight so you can review them properly.
Tip number 5 - Your child's teacher is on your team
It can be really hard to receive bad feedback and your child's teacher will not enjoy giving it. They really do want the best for your child just as you do. If they have mentioned problems with behaviour or concentration etc. Then try to see this as a positive opportunity to make a change with your child with another person who's sharing your child's upbringing with you. A parent/teacher combined approach can be such a powerful way to make a change that could be great for everyone.