GET THE MOST OUT OF PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES IN 3 EASY STEPS: Prepare, Engage, Follow-Up
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Parent-teacher conferences are an ideal opportunity to exchange information and to engage with your child’s teacher. As a parent, you bring information about your child’s interactions, behaviors, and experiences out in the world and at home, as well as previous experiences in school or daycare that might affect his performance in school. You also offer insight into what interests and excites your child. The teacher brings insight about how your child interacts with other children and approaches tasks in the classroom.
In September when the new year started your child may have been working extra hard to master difficulties to please the new teacher and be on absolute best behavior, by expending a great deal of energy, complying and remaining on task the whole day. While children can manage this for some time, eventually the excessive effort exacts a toll detracting from cognitive attention and performance, exacerbating low frustration tolerance, causing stress, and result in meltdowns as soon as your child enters the safety of your home.
At this point in the school year, the schools have raised the ante and if there are difficulties, they are more apt to emerge now than at the beginning of the year. The first parent-teacher conference may be the time when some of these challenges begin to emerge and may or may not be shared with you. Don’t worry! With a little forethought and some simple steps, you can leave the parent-teacher conference not only with information about your child, but as a partner with your teacher, and the recipient of skills and strategies to help your child succeed.
Most parent-teacher conferences last only 10 minutes, which is why preparation is so important.
Familiarize yourself with your child’s work. Look over their homework, if they have it, so you have a sense of what they are doing in the classroom.
Know their grades and have a sense of the school’s grading standards. Grading information is usually available in the school's handbook or on the website.
Talk with your child about what they love about school and the things that are the least enjoyable for them. You may find some really interesting information that you would not know had you not asked. For example, your child feels excluded at lunchtime or the child sitting next to him at the table is too noisy and detracts from his attention. This can be useful information to pass along to the teacher.
Prepare questions in advance and prioritize them. With only 10 minutes you want to make sure you get your most important concerns addressed.
If there is something specific that you want to bring up, let your child’s teachers know in advance, so that they are prepared. The more you prepare the teacher and the more you prepare yourself, the more you will be able to get out of the meeting.
Be ready to share strategies that have helped your child thrive in the past. Remember you and the teacher are a team in educating your child. If you have information that will help the teacher, feel free to offer it. But remember, the teacher is the classroom expert. Assist them, but recognize their leadership role.
Solicit Help. it’s a good idea to bring along someone who can listen carefully and take notes while you are having a conversation with the teacher. If you can bring a spouse, a parent or even a really good friend, it will free up your mind to talk to the teacher while someone else can concentrate on remembering. This is a really good way to ensure that while you are in the thick of the conversation, you are not losing precious tidbits that either you or the teacher have offered up.