Many of the parents and students in our After-School and Summer programs are preparing for upcoming Parent/Teacher Conferences at their schools. For some families this is an exciting time as they are encouraged by their child’s progress. However, for other families, Parent/Teacher Conferences are a time fraught with stress. Regardless of how you are feeling regarding meeting about your child’s learning, the tips below can help us all to make the most of our scheduled time.
- Prepare- Arrive at conferences on time and prepared with good questions. In addition to asking about what your child does well and struggles with academically, ask about your child’s interactions with others, perseverance in tasks or organizational skills. If your child is not joining you at conferences, talk with your child before conferences to find out what is on his or her mind as well. Make a list and bring your notes with you to the conference.
- Be positive- Even if your child is struggling in school, conference time is a great opportunity to tell the teacher what your child enjoys about school or what they are doing well on at home. Always remember that the goal of the conference is the same for both you and the teacher- success for your child. Conferences are a great time to say THANK YOU! Teachers impact our children in huge ways and it is important to show our appreciation.
- Listen- Be sure that you hear what is being said by the teacher and ask clarifying questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for examples or detail if you don’t fully understand. Don’t let emotions cloud your understanding if topics become stressful.
- Share- Don’t be afraid to share your struggles or concerns. Tell the teacher why you are proud of your child or what makes him or her special. Conferences are a two-way conversation. The teacher wants to hear what you are seeing in your child as well.
- Stay connected- If you don’t have a good relationship with the teacher yet, conferences offer an opportunity to ask if he or she prefers notes, emails, phone messages or stopping by in person. Touch base to thank the teacher when your child is particularly interested in a unit of study.
- Advocate- Your child’s teacher is an educator and cares about your child but you are your child’s parent and you probably know him or her best. Be respectful, polite and calm but be sure your child is represented. Most teachers have great perspective that they can offer you and appreciate your input.
- Patience- In the rare event that you disagree with your child’s teacher on an important topic, take a deep breath and give it some time. Calmly explain again your point of view and listen to the teacher. Remember that it is likely the teacher cares deeply about your child and the others in the class and that you are simply experiencing a difference of opinion that can be resolved with patience.
- Make it last- At conferences, ask how you can help your child’s academic success at home. Take notes. Hold onto what you have learned and the suggestions you receive by placing them in your calendar or on a note that you can use as a reminder every week. If the teacher suggests spending more time reading it is important to do that longer than just the week or two following the conference.
Director of Childcare and Education Services