The final parent consultation evenings of the year are upon us. If we focus on the key subjects of maths and English, here are some tips for getting the most out of those meetings, and for facilitating your child’s move up into a higher set.

  1. Be extremely positive towards your child’s teacher. Hold back any negative comments and gush. Speak about how happy your child has been in their class, how well this or that subject has come on and how thrilled you are with their progress. There is no harm in a bit of truth-massaging and you absolutely need all teachers on your side. Teachers share notes in the staffroom, so don’t think that moving on means severing all ties.
  2. Maths is a building-block subject. The better your child’s understanding of the basics, the faster and more happily he or she will progress. Ask for some general tips on the sort of maths your child finds the most challenging. Is it spatial awareness? Tables facts? Fractions? Whatever it is, write it down.
  3. Ask for the name of the maths scheme the school uses (if they have one) and ideally take a photo of the correct book with your phone. If not, ask for recommended resources that would help your child to gap-fill at home. You can order these on amazon. A big mistake parents make is to choose resources for themselves. It is important to work on the correct areas in the correct manner, or the time at home you child spends will be wasted.
  4. English – ask for the detail. Should handwriting or pen grip be a focus? Is reading where it should be – and if not, where should it be? Write this all down and note any recommended sites or apps you can follow up. A short diary entry every day in the holidays will have a real impact on handwriting and sentence-construction if you encourage care. Reading can be given a huge boost by simply taking it over for a while and reading aloud to your child. As long as they sit with you and run their eyes over the text, their reading will improve as if by osmosis.
  5. Tackle the chance of moving up a set head-on. Be realistic if the teacher has explained that your son or daughter is doing well in the set they are in. Discuss honestly why you are unhappy with the set. You need to be sure you are not placing your own unrealistic expectations on your child’s shoulders. But ask the teacher what your child would need to achieve in order to move up a set. Write a list and look at a reasonable time-limit.
  6. Agree to meet up at the end of the following half-term (or at a more appropriate date that you can agree on). At that point you can look at the progress made and discuss again what needs to be done. And if your child has met the targets on the original list, the move to the next set should be arranged.