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Parent Teacher Meetings: Do they have to be this way?

No child is totally perfect. They have good days and bad days. Don’t we all? There is a joy in growing, learning from those bad days and revelling in the good ones. That is life!


We moved back from the UK, and my older son took to his new school like a fish takes to water. He made good friends, played great music (he is my little musician!) and generally had a wonderful time. He seemed to be doing okay in his subjects; he did not top the class but he seemed to understand, which is what mattered to me. After all he was 8 years old, he needed to play! As a parent, I was happy with his progress.


Then came our first Parent Teacher Meetings (PTM)! I was in for a surprise. I walked in, as a happy parent excited to meet the teachers. I must say the teachers were really nice and happy to meet me too. However, the PTM turned out to be a series of complaints –


“Udai does not write quickly enough.”

“He gets distracted by his friends far too easily.”

“He does not work hard enough.”

“I wish he focused on his work as much as he focuses on his music.”


Teachers seem to be programmed to zero in on the child’s faults. This happens in most PTM’s – it is like every child is compared with the best 3-4 in the class –the ones who are academic. I don’t, however, ever hear them say, “Oh your child never plays an instrument” or “He does not do well in soccer.” It’s always about the classroom.


Most children will not excel in everything – some will be great at maths, some at music, some at art and some at anything linguistic. To add to this, each child will grow at a different pace. Some get there earlier, some later, but with the right encouragement they all get there. If we, on the other hand, make them aware of all they can’t do, they will lose confidence, shut down and never get it! Confidence and grit is critical, not only for academic success but life!

Stress and pressure is not always the best thing. In Finland, children have shown the greatest gains in language and math in terms of achievement, yet their children spend less time in classrooms, and more time playing outside. Homework is minimal and educators understand the children learn better when they are ready!


The greatest learning that children take away from schools is their ability to manage relationships, learn things, communicate, collaborate and innovate. Sadly schools focus less and less on this. After all, what makes us successful in a world that is constantly changing? It really cannot be the content we learnt in school – as most of that is, and will, get outdated!


Our PTM’s are wired incorrectly. I wish they would focus more on overall growth and build on the positives rather than focus on the negatives. All of us, parents included, would do a lot better with motivation and a true sense of confidence.


Let’s learn from Finland please.

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