As a parent, you are your child’s first educator. When your child enters the classroom, you are entrusting their well being with a teacher and school. You and the school have one thing in common: you both want the best for your child. Parent-Teacher conferences are the time for parents and educators to come together to share and collaborate about your child’s gifts, talents, and academic progress. Here are some tips to have a great parent-teacher conference:
Two Types of Parent Teacher Conferences
Teacher-led conference: The teacher shares work completed by the student and discusses the student’s progress, academics, and behavior with parents. The parent ask any question they may have. Students may or may not be present.
Student-led conference: Students share recent work in the classroom and shares their thoughts on their progress in the classroom, both academic and behavior. Students and parents are both asked questions and are invited to share any thoughts on the student’s progress.
Coming to the Conference Prepared
Here are a few things that will help make conferences go as smoothly as possible!
• Be on time. The average conference is only twenty minutes, and with your child’s teacher having at least twenty conferences, every minute is precious.
• Be honest. Is your family going through tough times (job loss, divorce, etc)? Is someone sick? Are routines being disrupted by anything out of the ordinary (parent out of town, upcoming sports tournament)? Issues going on at home will definitely affect your child at school, and the teacher will be able to tell when something is “off.” Remember anything you tell the teacher is confidential!
• Be open. Is the teacher seeing something in the classroom or in your child you don’t agree with or understand? Ask for clarification, examples, and how you all can work together to resolve the issue or find help for your child.
• Bring a pen and paper. The teacher may give suggestions about outside resources you may want to write down
• Bring your calendar. This will allow you to update your calendar for any upcoming field trips or other school activities.
• Review. Take a quick look at your child’s report card, test scores, and any work you may have questions about before attending the conference
What to ask?
I used to send my parents a “conference checklist” a week prior to conferences. This helped parents reflect on what questions they may have any what topics they wanted to focus on. It also gives the classroom teacher time to gather any information or resources that may be helpful. Here are a few good questions to ask your child’s teacher:
• How well does my child get along with others? Have any incidents at school involved my child?
• What concerns do you have about my child’s academic or behavioral progress?
• How is my child doing in class? What are my child’s grades and test scores?
• Do you have any concerns or comments about my child’s progress thus far in the year?
• Is the anything specific my child could be working on at home? How can I be involved with my child’s learning?
• Should we follow up at another time with you to discuss our child?
Remember that your child’s teacher wants to be partners with you. Any concern you have about your child is a concern to the teacher. Be open, be willing, and be truthful and you will have a great conference!