At least once per year, you will be contacted by your child’s school inviting you in for a parent-teacher conference. For many, this is an exciting time to get an update on how your child is progressing in school.
For many others, this could be a time of stress if your child is struggling academically or behaviorally in school.
For many still, this could be a time that makes you very uneasy because of your negative past experiences with the education system, with teachers you had while in school, or with academics.
Wherever you fit in these categories, let me assure you that meeting with your children’s teacher to establish a cooperative relationship is one of the best things that you can do for your kids!
By attending and participating in parent-teacher conferences, you are making a strong statement to your kids that school is important and you value their education. Afterall, without an education, your children will struggles to succeed in this world.
Knowledge IS POWER!
This statement holds truth for your kids and especially in their educational career. They will be more apt to gain the pleasures that life has to offer them because education opens doors.
Even given this, I totally understand how communicating and attending school based functions can be difficult.
Regardless of your feelings and thoughts on the topic of education, keep these tidbits in mind for a more successful, productive, and positive parent-conference.
- Depending on your childs physical, medical, and/or mental health needs, you may find it helpful to bring along updated evaluations from doctors and other outside support professionals. Come prepared so that you can be assured that your child’s school has the most up-to-date information as possible. This will serve your child well.
- Talk with your child before the conference. They need to understand the purpose of the meeting. Is it a routine meeting? Is your child struggling in a certain area? Is it an update to past concerns? In addition to going to listen to teacher concerns, come ready to respectfully voice any concerns that your child has regarding any aspect of their school day.
- Review homework policies if you have any questions of what is expected. Some teachers require daily agendas to be signed. Some send home a weeks worth of homework at a time. Some still, use emails and websites for homework assignments. If you have any questions about homework procedures, this conference will be a good time to get clarification.
- The world of education is riddled with acronyms. Teachers are quick to use these acronyms at meetings which may unintentionally confuse you and other parents. Be open to ask questions if you don’t understand something or feel your concerns are not being addressed.
- Keep an open mind and cooperate with your child teacher(s). Do this even if they are delivering bad news about your child’s academics or behavior. Teachers have a desire to make things better for your child and in turn themselves as well. Remember that teachers have a lot at stake too. Work with them as a team toward the benefit of your child. Be prepared to schedule a follow-up meeting or call to receive an update on how things are going. Be willing to do what you can at home to help as well.
- Always be willing to say thank you so that teacher(s) know you appreciate what they are trying to do to help your child.
- Go to the parent-conference prepared with a list of questions you want to ask your child’s teacher. Some of these could include any of the following topics:
*Grade level expectations regarding academics and behavior
*Areas where you can support your child at home
*Your child’s strengths and weaknesses
*Extra support classes
These ideas will serve you well as you maneuver parent-teacher meetings throughout your children’s educational careers. The more you participate in their education, the more success they will find!
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Barb, LMHC, CPC, Ed.M, CAS