Parent-teacher conferences can be a little daunting, especially if it’s your first time going to one. Going into a meeting not knowing what to expect is a tough task for some, but in all reality, these conferences are meant to give you feedback on how your child is doing in the class. And if you’re a little nervous going into it, just remember that the teacher is probably a little nervous too. Here are a few tips to help you prepare and get the most out of your parent-teacher conference.
1) Sign-up for Parent-Teacher Conferences & show up on time
Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to get some insight into your child’s development, so don’t skip them. Make sure you get all the time allotted to you by being on time (aka just a little early). Don’t waste the teacher’s or your time by being late. When I was a teacher, I would set a timer so that I was sure to give each parent the same amount of time. It was frustrating when some were late, and then wanted more time. A teacher has 20-30 conferences to get through, be respectful of them and the other parents waiting for their conference.
2) Enter Parent-Teacher Conferences with an open mind
Let’s be real; you know your kid’s not perfect, and you know he behaves differently around you than he does with others. Listen to what the teacher has to say without being defensive; she is a professional telling you what she sees on a daily basis. Ask what you can do at home to help keep your child’s behavior more consistent between school and home.
3) Ask to see examples of your child’s work
Most likely the teacher will already have some work examples on hand, but if she doesn’t, don’t hesitate to ask to see them. It is important for you to get a visual understanding of how your child is doing. And as parents, we know we can’t always rely on things that were sent home to actually make it home. So, work examples that the teacher has are the perfect way to see your child’s academic abilities.
4) Ask about your child’s social-life in the classroom
Who are her friends? Does she share/work well with others? Is she nice to others? Are others nice to her? What school activity does she seem to enjoy the most? You may or may not know the answers to some of these questions from what your child tells you, but it is always nice to get an “outsider’s” perspective on what’s going on.
5) Ask what you can do to help support your child’s growth and education
Teachers do their best to mold the minds of a classroom full of children each year, but at the end of the day you are the parent and need to take responsibility for your child’s growth and education. What social skills do you and your child need to work on? Which academic skills do you need to practice with your child? Are there more/better ways your can be incorporating learning into your child’s everyday life? You and your child’s teacher are on the same team, so work together!
6) Write things down
Before you go into your parent-teacher conference, write down all the questions you’d like to ask so you don’t forget. Take notes while the teacher speaks, especially noting helpful tips or more questions that you might think of. Also write down the answers to your questions so you can remember everything when you get home. This also is very helpful if you need to relay the message of the conference to a parent who couldn’t be there.
7) Talk to your child when you get home
After your parent-teacher conference, have a parent-child conference. Talk about how the meeting went. Talk about the good, the bad, and they ways you plan to help your child improve and continue to succeed. Have your child weigh in on what he thinks he’s excelling in, what he needs to work on, and what steps he can take to start improving. This parent-child conference will send the message to your child that you and his teacher are on the same page, and that you are there and willing to support your child in school and in life.