Time to think ahead - Parent/Teacher Conferences are coming up soon! This is a great opportunity to sit down with your child's teacher to discuss how the school year is going. Speaking as a teacher, we spend a significant amount of time preparing for these conferences. It is a labor intensive time because we write out individualized conference reports for each student. These reports usually state a couple of positive things we have seen from each student along with a couple of areas that each student can work on. But to get the most out of your conference, come prepared! Here are a few ideas that will make your parent/teacher conference run more smoothly and for you to gain some valuable information from you child's teacher about your child.
- First, start looking for your conference appointment slip. Many teachers will send home a scheduled time for your conference about a month prior to conferences. Check to see if this appointment will work on your calendar, add it to the calendar and if it will not work for you, let the teacher know as soon as possible so that the conference can be rescheduled to work best with both you and the teacher. Most teachers will again, send another notice home, the week before the conference as a reminder.
- Start writing topics down that you would like to discuss. I don't know about you but I will think of important items while in the shower or making dinner, most of the time I will forget about them by the time I need to remember them, if I don't write them down immediately.
- Along with writing down topics, jot down a couple of positive observations you have seen from your child. Such as "Susie really seemed to enjoy the unit on the Solar System, she talked about each planet during dinner" or "Bobby has been working extra hard on his math facts and it has paid off" or "Mary has been talking a lot about how easy math is this year because you have helped her during study hall" etc. If your child has had some positive experiences so far in the school year, let the teacher know.
- Jot down questions or concerns you may have. "Susie seems to be struggling with fractions, is their anything I can do to help her during study time?" or "Tommy hasn't been talking about his friends as much as he usually has, do you notice anything unusual that could be going on?"
- Be understanding and respectful about your scheduled conference time. Be aware that most conferences are scheduled in 15 minute increments. If you believe you will need more time than that, communicate that to the teacher before hand so that accommodations can be made. Also try to get to your conference a few minutes early so that your conference can start on time. If you believe you will be late or can't make it during the scheduled time, call as soon as you can so that other arrangements can be made.
- Be ready for some constructive criticism. It is our job to help your kids succeed in school. And as a teacher, there are never "perfect" students. What I mean by that is, we can always give suggestions on how to improve. Even if your child is a great student, there is always some room for improvement. Be willing to work together with the teacher on how to resolve issues. Remember that the child you see at home, may not be the same kid at school. Issues that your child's teacher will bring up may include behavior, quality of work, time management, social and peer interactions etc. Be opened minded. If you question a conclusion made by the teacher, voice your opinion and work together on a solution.
- Discuss the conference with your child. This is probably a no-brainer but your kids want to know what was said and most likely (if they are older) can tell you what the teacher talked about with you. They are pretty good at knowing where they stand and if they are fulfilling the expectations of you and their teachers.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you get ready for your parent/teacher conferences. If you have any other questions concerning parent/teacher conferences you can leave a comment on this post or send me an email.
Now I want to hear from you! Are there any other suggestions that were not previously stated that have worked well for you, that you think other parents would find beneficial? Secondly, I am curious to know if you come to your parent/teacher conferences with notes written down or do you just "wing it"?
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