Checking up regularly on our child’s education is just as important as checking up with your doctor about your child’s physical health. The Parent-Teacher conference is a wonderful opportunity to discuss your child’s needs, share your child’s strength and weaknesses, and work with the teacher to help your child do well in school. Kids do better in school when parents get involved. “When school and home are on the same page, the same team, and are there to support each other, the best learning can take place,” says Angela Youd, second grade teacher for Nebo School District.
Parent-Teacher conferences are held two or three times a year in most schools. The meeting window is usually only 10 minutes long. The teacher will provide information about your child’s progress, grades, homework and behavior in school. You will bring information about your child’s personality, habits, strengths, and weaknesses. With so much to talk about in so little time, here’s how you can make the most of your meeting:
Before the Conference
Check in with your child
- Most schools post grades and assignments online. Talk with your child about how they feel they are doing with homework assignments, projects, and tests in each subject.
- Ask your child which subjects they like most and which subjects are a struggle.
- Ask your child if there is anything they would like you to discuss with the teacher.
Prepare a list of topics, questions, and concerns
- Make a list of topics and questions you would like to discuss with the teacher. You may want to ask about your child’s work habits, how your child is cooperating with the teacher, how they get along with other students, whether your child is meeting grade-level expectations, and what you can do at home to reinforce and strengthen learning in the classroom.
- Teachers want to know when a big event has happened at home that could be hindering the child’s performance. “The teacher does not need to know the details, but might be able to provide a different kind of support if they know that something is going on,” says Mrs. Youd.
- Kids learn best when they are emotionally connected to the material. Share a few things to help the teacher know your child better. If the teacher knows your child’s interests, she can use that interest to get the child excited about learning.
- Now is a great time to bring up any concerns you may have in a respectful way. Discussing your concerns with the teacher may help both of you find a more effective way to help your child.
During the Conference
Be on time
- With only 10 minutes, you do not want to be late and shorten the time with your child’s teacher. Send a quick email if you are not going to be able to make it so that the teacher’s schedule is not affected.
Come in with a positive attitude
- Teachers are on your child’s side! “We want what is best for them and we will do all we can to help them succeed,” says Mrs. Youd. “If we offer some sort of program or talk about a weakness that the child has, it is because we can see their potential and want to help them reach it.”
Ask the teacher how she likes to communicate
- Make sure the teacher has your contact information and let her know you are available if she wants to talk with you. Ask if she prefers email or phone calls if you need to contact her. You don’t have to wait until the next Parent-Teacher conference to handle any problems.
Create an action plan
- Ask your child’s teacher for specific suggestions of ways you can help your child at home with homework, reading, organization, routines, behavioral issues, etc.
After the Conference
Talk with your child
- Talk about the conference with your child. Emphasize the positive points and be direct about problems that were discussed. If you and the teacher created an action plan, explain it to your child. Make sure that your child understands that you and the teacher created this plan to help him/her.
Start working on the action plan
- Take steps to put the action plan in motion. To ensure that it is working, check your child’s behavior and schoolwork on a regular basis.
Keep in touch with the teacher
- Stay in touch with your child’s teachers. This will help you strengthen the parent-teacher partnership, and will be an important part of your child’s success in school. “When the child sees that their parents and teacher are working together, they are more willing to take risks, in a positive way, because they know that they have this support system there to cheer them on.”
“Tips for Parents: Parent Teacher Conferences.” The Learning Community http://www.thelearningcommunity.us/resources-by-format/tips-for-parents/parent-teacher-conferences.aspx
“Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences at your Child’s School.” Colorin Colorado. http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/tips-successful-parent-teacher-conferences-your-childs-school