A Word About Parent Teacher Conferences

We believe that students benefit from the coordinated efforts of the Parent/Teacher team. Communication is paramount to students success in and out of the classroom. Below we have assembled what we believe to be helpful questions and thoughts for parents to use prior to a Parent-Teacher Conference.

Five Must-Ask Questions

In order to help your kids have a successful school year, you need to know what is expected of them, academically, from now until June. You can find out by asking some questions. Take this list with you to your next parent-teacher conference. And don’t forget to take notes.

  1. What skills and knowledge will my child be expected to master this year?
  2. How will my child be evaluated?
  3. What can I do to stay more involved in my child’s academic progress?
  4. How do you accommodate differences in learning?
  5. How are students prepared for further learning?

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Prepare ahead of time for the conference.

  • Look over recent assignments and test grades so that you know how your child has been performing in class. Look through books and see what your child is learning.
  • Ask your child questions, such as what is their favorite subject, what are they having a difficult time with, what subject do they find easiest, and who are their friends at school.
  • Write down questions you have for the teacher so you will remember what you wanted to ask.
  • List your child’s strengths.
  • Be on time for the conference, most are tightly scheduled. Being even 5 minutes late will substantially cut down on the time you have with the teacher.
  • Be open to suggestions. Ask what you can do at home to help your child be more prepared for school.
  • Offer suggestions and insights into your child. You know your child best and you may be able to offer information that will help the teacher help them to succeed.
  • Ask about social interactions as well as academic. Children struggling with friendships can suffer from low self-esteem which can cause additional problems in school.
  • If you find your child is struggling in school, ask to re-conference in a couple of weeks. This way the teacher will be able to spend more than 20 minutes with you and you can both work together to develop a plan to help your child succeed.

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Conference Anxiety

Even the term “parent-teacher conference” can raise anxiety in the hearts of parents, particularly when your own mom and dad came home from such conferences with a need to “lay down the law.”

What are some of the reasons for the dislike of conferences?

  • First, many dads and moms see parent teacher conferences as an evaluation of their parenting skills. “If my kid is having a hard time at school,” we reason, “it must be because of us.”
  • We also worry about the notions the teacher may have about us based on our children. “I can’t wait to meet Cindy’s mom and dad!” we imagine the teacher thinking from time to time.
  • Education is still overwhelming to many of us, despite the fact that most of us spent at least 13 years in the system. The teacher in most cases has the advantage over us in this setting, and we can feel a little intimidated if we don’t know what to expect.

What Parents Can Do About PTC Anxiety

  • Relax and Get Comfortable. Maybe the upcoming conference is the first for you, or perhaps you have just let your kids’ mom handle this trivial detail. Parent teacher conferences are not intimidating; in fact, teachers often go the extra mile to make sure you feel comfortable.
  • Talk to your child before the conference. Ask some pointed questions in a cordial interview such as “What do you like best about school this year?” and “Are there school activities that you’d like to spend more time on?”
  • Ask for specifics. Men, in particular, have a tendency to deal better with specifics of behavior; often our partners will be more attuned to the abstract issues. If the teacher raises positives or negatives about your child at school, ask for specific circumstances. It will help you understand the teacher’s perspective as well as give you a head start on an action plan.
  • Use the teacher as a resource. If problems surface during the conference with your child’s performance, ask the teacher for suggestions of what might help at home. Rather than being defensive, taking the approach of an active listener can be really helpful.
  • Make a plan and schedule a follow up. If there are issues that need addressing, take the initiative to create an action plan. Discuss what things might help the situation at home, at school, and in the student’s homework time. And then set up a time in the future to come back and address the results of the plan and do some fine tuning.

No matter how many suggestions, Parent Teacher Conferences can be stressful for both you and your child. Before attending the conference, be sure to let your children know how much you love them and that you will love them no matter what may be said. Let them know that conferences are not for the teachers to “tattle” on children, but for parents and teachers to work together to best help them succeed.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 at 2:53 pm and is filed under Events, School. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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