Parent Teacher Conference

Make the Parent-Teacher Conference Work for You and Your Child


You've been asked to attend a regularly scheduled "report card" conference with your child's teacher, or maybe you've received a special note from your child's teacher asking to see you. In either case, you might be a little nervous.


Relax. Teachers don't want to put parents on the spot. They just like to meet with parents to discuss how to help their students do their best in school.


All children learn in different ways. They have their own individual personalities, and their own listening and work habits. To help students learn new knowledge and skills, teachers must know as much as they can about each child, including their likes and dislikes. No one knows more about these things than you, the parent. No one has more influence over their children than parents. 

Teachers need your help to do a first-class job. Working together, you and the teache, in partnership, can help your child excel and have a successful school year.

 

Here are few items to keep in mind:

  • Start the conference right: be there on time, and plan not to run over the amount of time that has been set aside, usually about 40 minutes.
  • If you are a working parent who can't arrange to meet during regular hours, make this clear to the teacher and try to set up a time to meet that is good for both of you.
  • The best conferences are those in which both teachers and parents stay calm and try hard to work together for one purpose and one purpose only: to help your child do well. Arguing, or blaming each other for problems your child is having, helps no one.

Getting Ready
 
Each teacher will probably come prepared with samples of your children's work and with ideas to help  them do even better in school. You should get ready for each conference, too.
 
Talk to your children before the conference. Find out what they think are their best subjects, and what  subjects they like the least. Find out why. Also, ask your children if there is anything they would like you  to talk about with their teachers. Make sure your children don't worry about the meeting. Help them  understand that you and their teacher(s) are meeting together in order to help them.
 

Before you go to the school, write notes to yourself about:

  • Things about your child's life at home, personality, problems, habits, and the hobbies you feel are important for the teacher to know
  • Any concerns or questions you may have about the school's programs or policies 
  • Questions about your child's progress
  • How you and the school can work together to help your child
  • If your spouse can't attend the conference with you, ask for his or her concerns and questions.


The Conference
 

It's a good idea to ask your most important questions first, just in case time runs out before you and the teacher have a chance to discuss them all. Be sure to ask the teacher for specific suggestions on ways to help your child do better. This is the most important part of the meeting. The feedback provided by the teacher should become part of your action  plan. If the teacher says something you don't quite understand, don't be shy. Ask for a detailed explanation. It's a good idea to end the conference by summing up decisions you've made together. If needed, ask to meet again.

 

Some good questions to ask:
 

  • Is my child in different groups for different subjects? Why?
  • How well does my child get along with others? 
  • What are my child's best and worst subjects? 
  • Is my child working up to his or her ability? 
  • Does my child participate in class discussions and activities? 
  • Has my child missed any classes other than ones I contacted the school about? 
  • Have you noticed any sudden changes in the way my child acts? For example, have you noticed any squinting, tiredness or moodiness that might be a sign of physical or other problems?
  • What kinds of tests are used? What do the tests indicate about my child's progress? How does my child  handle taking tests?


After the Conference

Start immediately with the action plan that you and the teacher worked out together. Discuss the plan with your child. Make sure he or she knows that you and the teacher care and are working together to help them succeed.

To see if the action plan is working, watch your child's behavior and check your child's classwork and homework, daily.
 
Stay in touch with the teacher to discuss the progress your child is making. Meeting and regular communication with your child's teachers should help build a strong parent-teacher partnership. This is the kind of strong connection that is needed for you and your child's teachers to reach the shared goal of helping your student get the best education possible.

 

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