As technology in the classroom brings parents closer to their child’s education, it also opens up the communication lines between parents and teachers! And while, at times, this can seem overwhelming, it gives you the chance to get a deeper insight into their child’s needs before the year has even begun.
You’re no doubt super familiar with all the questions parents ask teachers, but what questions can or should you ask parents?
Asking the right questions will help you gauge how each family views education, their child’s learning abilities, and what social and emotional support they may need in the classroom.
To help get some cogs turning, we’ve compiled five of the most important questions you can ask parents as you go back to school to set you and your students up for success!
What values and principles do you hold as a family when it comes to education?
Every family will have a different approach to education and it can be very helpful to know exactly what that is before the beginning of the school year. Often this question will receive two very polarising responses. Some families encourage rote learning and believe that literacy and numeracy are super important. On the other hand, some parents encourage hands-on learning, critical thinking, and the arts. Asking this question can help inform your teaching and guide how you might engage students in different activities. Some students might not have been encouraged to learn their times tables by heart, or on the other side, how to lead their own research projects. Knowing this will give you valuable insight into where and why they might need support.
What are some of your child’s greatest skills?
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but knowing a child’s strengths can help you encourage intrinsic motivation in other subjects. For example, if you know that a student’s strength is in writing, you can help improve their math results by incorporating more word problems.
This type of question also fosters a foundation of caring and genuine interest between teachers and families!
Do you think your child needs social or emotional support at school? In what ways would you like to see them grow socially or emotionally?
Parents find a lot of comfort in knowing that their child is being supported emotionally as well as academically. And as we all know, without emotional support, children are often unable to learn. It’s important to be aware of any struggles students may have emotionally as well as socially so you can adapt and be more understanding of any issues that arise. This information can also be extremely helpful for classroom management and planning – more anxious students might benefit from a fifteen-minute meditation session on a daily basis, whereas others may benefit from a side course on friendship and wellbeing.
Understanding how your students’ parents would like to see them grow, helps to build a stronger relationship for everyone involved.
Are there any learning challenges that your child is currently facing?
While it’s key to ask questions about student wellbeing and family views, questions about a child’s learning are equally as important. You know better than anyone that learning comes in all shapes and sizes – while it can be a challenge, it’s vital that students understand and can achieve the foundational skills before moving on to more difficult topics. When there’s a gap in a child’s learning, they’ll constantly be playing catch-up, which could really impact their overall attitude towards learning.
If you can front-foot this at the start of the year, it gives you and your students a head-start and may save you some surprises down the track!
What goals do you have for your child and where you would like them to be, by the end of the school year?
Finally, this is a great question to ask. Partly because parents can have some very interesting answers, but mostly, like many of the above questions, it can help you develop your learning approach for the year. For example, if it seems that the majority of parents are hoping for social and emotional goals, you can develop a year plan that incorporates relationship and wellbeing courses. But even if this isn’t the case, it can simply support your understanding of student needs and where you should invest your energy. Parents often seek more feedback in these areas as well, so it can be a great guide for you on what to consider when providing updates on a child’s progress in their report card or at parent-teacher conferences.
While this all might seem like a lot to ask for at the beginning of a school year, it can be so useful and a massive energy/time saver further down the line. These questions are a great way to start the year on a positive note for you, your students, and their parents. Talk about starting ahead of the game!