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Parent-Teacher Conferences: More Than Just Showing Up

by Dr. Susan Canizares | May 3, 2017 | Child Development

shutterstock_64389424As a parent, you are the most important advocate for your child. You want your child to be both happy and prepared for success in school. Your child’s teacher wants that as well. This is the foundation for a strong parent-teacher partnership.

And Parent-Teacher Conferences are an important part of that foundation, as well as being a great way for you to learn about your child’s academic progress and share important information that supports daily teacher-child interactions.

Check out the tips below to be prepared for the best possible parent-teacher conference.

Before the Conference

  • Make a list of questions you want to ask. For example, you may want to know how your child is participating in group activities.
  • Make a list of concerns. For example, if your child complains of a stomachache every morning before coming to school, you will want to talk to the teacher about it.
  • Consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, you may think that one of your child’s strengths is the ability to learn math and a weakness is making friends.
  • Reflect on what may be happening at home that could affect learning or behavior in the classroom. For example, if your child is taking a new medication or a grandparent has moved in to your house. Even things that seem innocuous or positive can affect a child’s mood or behavior.

During the Conference

  • Ask your questions and bring up any concerns. Teachers want your child to succeed, just like you, and a two-way conversation is the best way for this to happen. If you are unsure what the teacher is saying, ask for clarification.
  • Share what you think your child is good at and what they need more help with. You may be surprised that your child is more adept at making friends than you thought and they may need more help with math!
  • Effective conferences focus on what your child does well and areas for improvement. If you’re unsure how you can help your child improve in the area the teacher is talking about, don’t hesitate to ask questions!
  • Share what’s happening at home that could affect your child’s learning. If you feel that your child needs some extra assistance, you can ask what services are available for support.

After the Conference

  • Be sure to talk to your child so they know what was discussed. Share the positive comments, as well as ways that you intend to help them improve. Show your child how you’ll help with their learning at home, such as reading a book together before bed instead of watching television. You should also explain why you are making this change and why it is important.
  • If issues need to be addressed, leave with a concrete action plan to know the next steps. You should also set up another conference time to review the plan—what’s working or what’s not. This would also be the time to talk about next steps, if any are needed.

Remember, the main objective of Parent-Teacher Conferences is for you to have a better understanding of your child’s life at school and for the teacher to have a better understanding of your child. Effective Parent-Teacher Conferences help build a working partnership between you and the teacher that will ultimately benefit your child.