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As the school year gets underway, the time for the first Parent/Teacher Conferences also come up. As both a parent and a teacher, I have experienced conferences on both sides of the table. Also, with two extremely different children (read about my polar opposite children and how I’ve coped raising them here), I’ve experienced conferences where the teacher has nothing to say but good things about one child–and conversations where we have to discuss less than positive qualities of my other child. Read this article for advice on how to prepare and what to expect at your child’s parent/teacher conference.
How to prepare
- Remember when your child was a baby? You would take him to his physical and have all kinds of questions in your head, but forget to ask them because you didn’t write them down. Or, you would write them down and get answers. Just like back then, write down any questions or concerns you would like to bring up.
- Collect any papers or assignments you would like to discuss. Take them with you so you can show the teacher exactly what you have questions about.
- Ask your child if she has anything going on at school that she’d like you to bring up. Don’t forget this can be positive! Ask your child what her favorite and least favorite things about school are to get an idea of things to discuss.
During the conference
- Just like the teacher should talk about positive as well as negative attributes of your child, make sure you don’t go into the conference fired up with anger and complaints. Start with a positive and move into things you have questions about.
- Ask about your child’s strengths and what areas he can improve in.
- Make a plan work together to reach any goals. You and the teacher should be a team to reach any goals.
- Be on time and be ready to be on a time frame. Teachers have to schedule conferences back-to-back. This is why it’s so important to bring your list of questions and ready to talk as soon as you get there.
- No matter how great your child is, be prepared to hear things you don’t know about your child. I distinctly remember my daughter’s 1st Grade conference where we discussed that she was doing fabulously academically, but didn’t seem to know what to do with herself when she was done with her work. So she would simply follow the teacher around, pestering her.
- Schedule a follow up conference if needed. If you set goals or have concerns that you’ll be addressing with your child, be sure to have a plan for following up with the teacher.
- Talk to your child’s teacher about the best ways to keep in contact. Does the teacher prefer to communicate via email? Hand written notes? Phone calls?
Education.com provides a nice summary of 9 Things to Ask at Your Parent-Teacher Conference that could also be helpful in preparing for your conference.
Have you had any successes with parent/teacher conferences you’d like to share? What about advice for parents about to experience a parent/teacher conference for the first time?