For some, parent-teacher conferences will be one of the few times you’ll speak with your child’s teacher this year, while for others this meeting marks the first of many conversations to come.
If you greet parent-conferences with a twinge of anxiety, know that you’re not alone. I’ve had years where I knew I wasn’t going to like what I was about to hear. I’ve had years where I’ve even cried a little. And this year, even with both of my kids finally on behavioral track, I’m nervous for what this week’s parent-teacher conferences will bring.
Nerves aside, it’s our job as parents to support our young learners with the help of their teachers. Let’s take a look at 8 ways we can get the most out of parent-teacher conferences to support our young learners.
1. Manage your expectations
Your parent-teacher conference is designed to give you a general idea of your child’s academic and behavior performance to date. Generally only 20 minutes in length, standard conferences don’t allow enough time to tackle deeper issues. If you have specific challenges and concerns you wish to discuss with your child’s teacher, use this opportunity to schedule a follow on meeting.
2. Be punctual
With only 15-20 minutes allotted per parent, your child’s teacher doesn’t have a moment to spare. Arrive on time and silence your mobile devices to give your child’s teacher the attention they deserve.
3. Talk to your child
I don’t like surprises, so I preface every parent-teacher conference with a conversation with my child. “Is there anything I need to know before meeting with your teacher, because I’d rather hear from you first.” As much as I dislike putting my kids in this awkward position, I can’t tell you how many times they’ve sheepishly admitted to behavioral wrongdoings and a poor test score or two that never made it home. Knowing these things prior to your conference will better prepare you for what your child’s teacher has to say.
4. Come prepared
The first six weeks of school has left you scratching your head on a few occasions: Is my kid supposed to bring a book every Friday? How does Accelerated Reader work again? What’s the name of that website she told us about on Back-to-School Night again? Jot down your questions so you won’t forget to ask when the teacher asks if you have any questions.
5. Listen with an open mind.
Arguably the hardest part of having school-aged children is hearing your child’s teacher mention anything less than complementary about your kid. However, out of respect for your child’s teacher and their professional authority, we owe it to our students to listen with an open mind. Remember, you and your child’s teacher possess the shared vision of your student achieving their personal best.
6. Take notes
Hopefully, nothing your child’s teacher reports will come as shocking information, but you’re certain to learn a few things about your child’s academic progress that you didn’t know. Take notes to discuss with your partner and your child after the conference and be sure to inform your child of the good stuff along with areas for improvement.
7. Show respect.
It can be difficult to show respect to a teacher who has less than favorable details to report – particularly if the chemistry between child and teacher got off to a rocky start. Mutual respect between parent and teacher is vital for the success and academic development of your child. When parents and teachers work together, students win.
8. Ask what you can do at home.
If your child’s teacher advises additional practice in reading or math is needed, inquire about specific resources available. As an academic professional, your child’s teacher is a wealth of information who will gladly point you in the right direction.
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Do you have any tips on how to get the most out of parent-teacher conferences?