Prepare for My Child's Parent-teacher Conferences
Whether it’s your first or your tenth parent-teacher conference, communication and planning before, during, and after the meeting are important steps to making the most of the meeting. Being involved in your child’s parent-teacher conference is an essential step in helping your child succeed in school. It may not always be easy to find the time, but the benefits of being involved are numerous for both you and your child.
Here are some steps you can use to be involved:
Before the conference, make a list of questions to ask the teacher.
Conferences usually only last about 15-20 minutes, which isn’t much time. This list will help to ensure you don’t forget to mention something important to the teacher. And knowing what you want to talk about will help the meeting go more smoothly and help you get through all of your concerns.
Tip: If you have a major concern (failing several classes, problems at home, bullying issues, etc.) you may want to set up a separate meeting to discuss it.
Use the school's online tools to check my kid's progress.
Most middle and high schools (and even some elementary schools) have some type of online system that allows parents access to their kid’s grades and attendance records. If you periodically check your child’s progress, you shouldn’t have any surprises when you meet with the teacher at conferences.
Tip: If you aren’t sure how to access your child’s information, contact the school and ask for your child’s password and student number. Most schools use these types of numbers for online access for their students.
Talk with my child before the conference.
Look over your kid's schoolwork, past report cards, and any notes from the teacher. Ask for your child's input on how he or she thinks school is going and what concerns the teacher might discuss. This would also be a good time to ask about any concerns your child might have about the teacher or the classroom dynamics.
Arrange a babysitter so that both of us (parents or guardians) can attend the conference and all the attention can be placed on our child.
Both parents should be at the meeting whenever possible. This shows just how concerned you both are with your child’s education. It also helps to keep younger kids at home so you are free from distractions during the conference.
Tip: Sometimes the school’s PTA will offer free babysitting during parent-teacher conferences. It might be worth a phone call to see if your child’s school is offering that service.
Ask the teacher for samples of my child's school work.
Teachers are usually happy to share examples of work your child has completed while in class. You should expect to see something from just about every subject. If the teacher doesn't have what you are expecting, ask if he or she could find some samples for you or get them to you as soon as possible.
At the end of the meeting, write down any action plans the teacher and I have created.
Ask the teacher what you can do to continue helping your child succeed, and keep track of it in a notebook that you can share when you get home.
Discuss the conference with my child-without distractions or interruption.
Let your child know what you and the teacher discussed-both positive and negative. Ask your kid if he or she would agree with the comments and the progress that has been made so far. Talk about any areas of disagreement and see if there is a need for a follow-up discussion with the teacher.
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