The school year is well underway and chances are a teacher conference is in your future. This is an important time to gauge exactly how your child is doing in school from the person who knows best, their teacher! They spend many hours with your child in a parent-free zone. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn vital information that can help your child, if you are prepared. Here are a few parent teacher meeting tips to help you make the most of your next interaction.
Be on time: There is a good chance your son or daughter’s teacher came in early, or is staying at work late to meet with you, so show them that you value their time. Also if the teacher has back-to-back conferences or is meeting you before school starts, you are only selling your child short by missing out on that time. Don’t be late.
Let the teacher talk: Most teachers have a ‘plan’ going in. Give them a chance to tell you what they want you to know about your child. They might have a list of positives and negatives they want to address with you, or some of your child’s classwork they want to share as an example of what your child is excelling at, or perhaps needs work on. Try not to get hung up on one question or topic, be sure you give the teacher time to get through everything they want to say.
Don’t be defensive: Remember, your child’s teacher and you are on the same side. Both of you want your child to get the best education possible. But as much as we tell ourselves we are going to listen to what teachers have to say, as parents it is easy to get defensive. Especially when we hear negative things about our child. Try your best to listen and learn from what the teacher is telling you. Remember, the social school setting is often very different from home, so you may hear about behaviors that don’t sound like your child – but listen to what they are saying.
Be prepared: think about what questions you want to ask, and write them down. That way you won’t forget anything once you get caught up in talking. Here is a list of suggested questions:
1. What subject/skill is my child excelling in?
2. What subject/skill does my child need more work on?
3. How is my child doing socially? (communicating with peers, making friends, etc)
4. What should I be doing at home to help my child? (more reading, setting limits, etc)
5. Is my child preforming at his/her grade level?
6. Is there anything I need to look out for or be worried about?
You should also take this opportunity to help the teacher learn about your child. Let them know what punishments/encouragements work best at home. Tell them about your child’s personality traits or mannerisms that may help to explain the way they act at school. Sharing what you know about your child will help the teacher better understand them.
These days, teacher conferences are pretty quick, so if you feel like there is still more you need to know, schedule another conference or ask for the teachers contact information. Sometimes a few emails will help clear up a situation and get everyone on the same page. Try to stay in touch with the teacher throughout the year, to keep up with how your child is doing. A good relationship with your child’s teacher makes life much easier, and you can start it off on the right foot with a successful parent/teacher conference.