First parents’ evening: what we expected vs what we got

Do you get a written report? Do you get a ticking off for the things you keep forgetting? And do you have to bring an apple for teacher? What exactly happens...

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Anyone with a child who’s just started in Reception at school is probably imminently facing – or has just had – their very first parents’ evening. How did it go? Was it what you expected?

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I’m attending ours tonight for our daughter Bodhi, and apart from knowing the time and the fact we’ve got a 10-minute slot I know nothing more about what’s going to happen.

So, here are my expectations before I go, followed by the reality of what actually happened – and how they compare…

What I’m expecting…

1 That my daughter can come with us

Now this might seem like an off-the-bat obvious one, but before I left for work this morning I double-checked with my husband.

“Is Bodhi meant to be coming with us this evening?”

“Ummmm. Don’t know.”

“I mean, will after club stay open a bit later while teachers see the parents?”

Ummm. Good point. Yep, we don’t know.

She will be coming as we’ve no one to look after her and I’m guessing this will be OK – schools must be prepared for that, right?

What happened…

It seemed the teacher totally expected that Bodhi would be with us – but there was no-after-club extension and she just played in the classroom while we chatted. It worked fairly well although she did interrupt a few times with rather loud renditions of ‘Let It Go’ and made us all a (play) dinner of sausages and broccoli. Yum.

2 That I’ll find out if she’s a genius

OK, OK, I’m kind of kidding here, but I am expecting to be told how she’s getting along – whether she’s standing out as a particularly smart pupil or whether she seems to be struggling with anything.

I know she’s only been there a few weeks but I’m hoping the teacher might have a good grasp of how quick or otherwise she is to learn.

What happened…

We were definitely given a good grasp of where Bodhi’s interests lie – singing and art seem to be her strong points so far, which wasn’t unexpected but it was good to have it reinforced by an objective observer who’s not an adoring parent or doting grandma. We’ll hold off on the X Factor application for a few years though, I think.

3 A telling off

Perhaps because I work in the world of parenting and see SO many parenting-shaming stories every week – or because I know I’m the mum of a slightly disorganised household – I must admit I’m expecting to be in trouble for something.

It might be for not getting various forms in on time (I keep forgetting to check the book bag where they seem to put all that admin stuff); or the fact Bodhi starts most days with several blobs of dried-on porridge stuck to her jumper; or the fact we don’t usually get round to brushing her hair. I could be wrong, but I won’t be surprised if we get a disapproving word on something…

What happened…

There were thankfully no comments about Bodhi’s often slightly dishevelled appearance, but we were given a gentle reminder to go through her book bag and make a note of any books we’re reading with her. It’s been Aliens Love Underpants pretty much every day this week so I’ll be sure to jot that down…

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Photo: Bodhi on her first day of school

What I’m NOT prepared for 

Any suggestion of really bad behaviour or what seems to be serious learning difficulties will, I admit now, leave me a little shaken. I’m guessing that sort of thing is addressed as it happens rather than being left for a once-a-term 10-minute chat but we’ll see.

What happened…

Aside from being told Bodhi can get a little cheeky on very rare occasions, there were no horrible surprises about horrendous behaviour or struggles with work, and while she has had a few time outs for nipping to the loo instead of helping with clearing up time (we’d all be tempted) she’s pretty much the little angel at school she is at home. Ha ha.

And what would be REALLY nice

A colleague at work with a 6-year-old girl tells me she gets a progress book with all the updates on how her daughter’s doing to take home and peruse in her own time. I’m guessing all schools are different – and I’m not holding my breath for this – but it would be rather lovely, so fingers crossed!

What happened…

Actually there was a book of her artwork put out for us to look at which had loads of notes about how Bodhi’s doing and what she enjoys. I dutifully took it home to read it at my leisure this weekend – though my husband informed me I wasn’t meant to do that and it was supposed to stay at school. Oops…

The overall impression

I was a bit sceptical about a parents’ evening at the end of Bodhi’s very first term, but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. The teacher really seemed to know Bodhi well and gave us a very clear outline of what we can expect to see in her progress until Christmas.

Just spending time chatting to the  person who also, quite frankly, spends more hours per week with my child than I do, felt pretty good, and actually, I realise is a rather important thing to do.

I still remember the name of my first teacher and that was a VERY long time ago, so that just shows the impression such adults have on our little one’s lives. And I must say Miss R, you’re doing a brilliant job.

What do you think?

Was parents evening what you expected? More or less helpful than you would have liked? Tell us in the comments below.

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