12 Ways to Ace Your Parent Teacher Conference
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- The Parent-Teacher Conference
- Getting Ready for a Parent-Teacher Conference
- Parent-Teacher Conference Part II
- Making the Most of Your Parent-Teacher Conference
- 9 Questions to Ask at the Parent-Teacher Conference
- 5 Keys to Parent-Teacher Communication
Whether you’re going to your child’s first or fifth parent-teacher conference, it’s best to come prepared. Discussing your child’s progress and finding out how they’re doing in class is one of the most important conversations you’ll have all year. Here are 12 ways to make sure that your next parent-teacher conference goes well.
- Consider the Calendar Make sure that you have enough time on either end of the parent conference. Don’t schedule a conference before work, when you’ll be worrying about traffic. And, consider your family’s evening schedule too. Bringing your child to a conference that’s scheduled between work and dinnertime might not lead to a productive conversation. When you get the first information about parent conferences, look at your schedule and book early so you get your first choice.
- Attend Every Conference Even if your child’s teacher assures you that everything’s fine, your child has straight As and there are no behavior problems, make sure that you attend the conference. Take every opportunity to sit down with your child’s teacher, says Betsy Landers, National PTA president, and have a conversation that you simply can’t have during the day, or over email.
- Let Your Student Shine If your child is invited to or helping lead the conference, make sure he has all your attention. Leave siblings at home, turn off your cell phone, and sure the conference is a time to celebrate everything he’s learned.
- Do Your Research At a parent teacher conference, the conversation should be all about your child’s academic progress and making sure that they’re on track. Before you attend, Betsy Landers, National PTA president, recommends researching the skills that your child has mastered. (PTA K-12 guides for review, or check out the Academic Readiness resources).
- Start with the Positive If your child loves his teacher, and especially if he doesn’t, make sure that you provide the teacher with some positive feedback and appreciation. It feels great to get a pat on the back, says Landers, “we give praise to our children, why not their teachers?”
- Know the Agenda The primary goal of parent-teacher conferences is to talk about your child’s academic progress in class and his readiness for the next grade. Save discussions about behavior problems or other concerns for a separate meeting.
- Problem Solve On the other hand, if you do start talking about an issue that your child is having at school, present it as a problem to solve, rather than an opportunity to blame the teacher. And, says Landers, always assume that the teacher has your child’s best interests in mind.
- Take a Tour If your child is attending the conference with you, ask her to give you a tour of the classroom. You’ll learn about her favorite spaces, and it’ll give your child a chance to welcome you into the space, especially if he’s nervous about the conference.
- Review Work Samples Your child’s teacher may have a portfolio ready, but Landers advises always asking for examples of work. Seeing work samples will focus the conversation around the skills that your child has mastered, and what he’s still working on.
- Bring Work Samples Have your child bring work from home to share with his teacher. This will help you and your child’s teacher talk about what your child is capable of in every setting.
- Ask Questions Prepare questions ahead of time, and never be afraid to ask them. But, perhaps the best questions are about how you can help your child at home. Ask what skills your child needs to work on at home and how you can help. For example, how can you strengthen your child’s reading fluency? Or, what math fact games are good for at-home review?
- Stay Informed Education is constantly changing, so you’ll want to know how local or state reforms affect your child’s school. Hot topics this year, the transition to the common core standards. (Learn more here.) and federal legislation reauthorizations. (Read more here.)
First and foremost, parent-teacher conferences are a chance to start a conversation. In fall, you’ll get to know your child’s teacher and in spring, you’ll reflect on the growth your child has made.
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