Questions to ask at high school parent-teacher interviews

Parent-teacher interview

Parent-teacher interviews can help you find out more about your teen's progress at school. Discover 6 must-ask questions for their teacher here.

Whether your teenager is driven or demotivated, parent-teacher interviews can be daunting. Does your teen’s self-assessment stack up to their teachers’? Now’s your chance to gain insights into their academic progress, identify their strengths and weaknesses and work with their teachers to develop strategies for success. From what to expect to what to ask, here’s how you can make the most out of these meetings – and support your teenager’s development with confidence.

What is a parent-teacher interview?

A parent-teacher interview is a scheduled meeting between a student’s parents and their teachers to discuss the student’s academic progress, social development and any other relevant issues. Normally around 15 minutes long and held at the end of Terms 2 and 4, these interviews provide parents with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their teen’s strengths and challenges in school.

Why are parent interviews important?

More than a meet-and-greet, parent-teacher interviews provide critical insights into your teen’s academic, social and emotional development. Not only will you learn more about them, but their teachers will learn more about your teen, too.

In this open forum, you can raise concerns, seek advice, impart relevant details about your teenager’s home life and identify areas for improvement. It’s an opportunity to work out what you can do to bolster their performance.

As well as feedback you might want to pass on, these meetings will reveal a lot about the school’s programs, learning methods and teaching approach. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of the study and personal support your teenager is getting.

What to expect at a parent-teacher interview

Some schools require you to attend one interview per subject, others allow you to choose which teachers to meet, while some teachers reach out to request meetings. In any case, it pays to carve out time for these meetings, which typically take place outside school hours.

During the interview, teachers will discuss your teen’s academic performance, attendance, behaviour and participation in class. You might be shown specific examples of their work to highlight their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers may talk about the curriculum, assessments, classroom policies and teaching methods, explaining your teen’s learning environment. They may also refer to their interactions outside of class, helping you to understand if they’re supported by healthy friendships.

You should also expect to share your own perspectives, voice concerns and ask specific questions about your teenager’s development. Are they facing any challenges at home or school that teachers might not know about? Can you share helpful insights into their behaviour, habits or learning style at home? Together with the teachers, you can formulate a course of action that will enrich your teen’s education.

6 parent-teacher interview questions you need to ask

1. How should my Year 10 teen approach subject selection?

Should your teenager prioritise their passion? Will their choices impact their ATAR result? Do they need to consider prerequisites for their desired university courses? Are there subjects in which they naturally excel? With their deep understanding of your teen’s strengths and interests, teachers are in the best position to guide them towards subjects that will not only make their final two years of high school more enjoyable but also enhance their chances of achieving academic success. With their advice, your teen can choose a well-rounded combination of subjects that aligns with their academic goals and future aspirations.

2. What steps can I take to ensure my teen is well-prepared for their senior years?

The transition into year 11 marks the beginning of an important phase where effective study techniques and strategies become crucial for academic success. Your teen may find learning more difficult and subjects more challenging. Do their teachers foresee any potential challenges? Will additional tutoring be necessary? How often should they be studying? Ask teachers for a clear picture of what to expect over the next two years – and what support you can offer to nurture their academic and personal development during this pivotal stage of their education.

3. What are the options available to my teen after they complete Year 12?

As your teen approaches the end of their high school journey, it’s essential to explore the various pathways they can pursue beyond Year 12. In addition to traditional university admissions, there are opportunities for vocational training, apprenticeships and other alternative pathways based on their interests and academic achievements. By understanding the different options available, you can help guide your teenager towards a path that supports their goals and aspirations. Ask for information and guidance on these post-secondary options to ensure your teen is well-informed and prepared for their future endeavours.

4. How does the ATAR system work, and what role does it play in university admissions?

The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) system is an important aspect of university admissions. It’s crucial to understand how your teen’s subject choices and performance in Year 12 impact their ATAR score and eligibility for specific courses. Ask for an explanation of how the ATAR system works and how it is calculated. Gain insights into how different subjects contribute to the overall score and what impact it can have on university admissions. This understanding will enable you to support your teenager in making informed decisions regarding their subject selection and future academic pursuits.

5. Are there any programs or initiatives that offer practical experience?

Whether your teen is required to undertake work experience in Year 10 or is simply keen to test the waters in the workplace, hands-on learning can be incredibly valuable. Ask if the school offers any programs or initiatives that provide practical exposure and insights into your teenager’s chosen field. Inquire about initiatives available within the school or beyond, which can help your teen explore their interests and potentially forge connections for future employment. Find out if there are any workshops focused on resume writing, interview techniques or networking skills. It’s also worth asking about any partnerships or mentorship programs that provide practical experience and skills.

6. What resources are available to support my teen’s career exploration?

While the school’s career advisors are a valuable resource, it’s beneficial to explore additional avenues for assistance as your teen prepares for life after school. Are there career expos, workshops or guest speakers that can offer guidance on choosing the right course of study or preparing for job interviews during their final year of high school? Many universities organise campus tours for high school students and provide talks about their course offerings. These opportunities provide valuable insights and advice that will help your teen make informed decisions about their future.

Two teachers talking before interview

5 ways to keep the conversation going after the interview

1. Consult your notes

During the interviews, you should have taken notes on key points about your teenager’s progress, strengths and weaknesses. Use them as a reference point for future discussions with the teachers. If they made any specific suggestions about way you could assist at home, talk these through with your teen so you’re on the same page.

2. Schedule a follow-up

After the interviews, email the teachers to ask any additional questions or raise any concerns you may have. As the term progresses, schedule a follow-up conversation to discuss any areas your teen still needs to improve on. Together, you can devise a plan to work on specific skills.

3. Set some goals

Use the feedback to establish realistic goals with your teenager. As well as improving their academic abilities, these goals will help your teen stay focused, motivated and engaged.

4. Help establish a study routine

Set up a study and homework routine that works for your teenager. Instigate a system for organising assignments, reviewing study notes and preparing for exams. With healthy study habits, your teen is more likely to keep up with their schoolwork.

5. Champion your teenager

Discuss the interviews with your teenager and congratulate them on their achievements. Pass on positive comments and feedback, taking the time to acknowledge their hard work.

Parent-teacher interviews can be a game-changer for your teen’s academic success. Actioning the feedback can make a significant difference in their educational journey. These meetings serve as a valuable springboard to unlock your teen’s full potential and identify areas for growth and support. By fostering a collaborative relationship between you, your teen and their teachers, you’ll lay a strong foundation for your teenager’s future success.

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