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Navigating the Parent-Teacher Conference

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Updated on Jan 14, 2008

Want to make sure your kids do well in life? Go back to school! When parents think of November, they usually think of Thanksgiving and the countdown to Christmas. But November is important for another reason: it’s a popular time for that foundation of educational success: the parent-teacher conference.

So how can you make the most of it? We went straight to the source. Today, in celebration of American Education Week, we focus on the nitty gritty of the parent-teacher conference, with advice from the people who know it best: teachers.

Number one on their list? Show up, please! “We know parents are busy, but it is important to carve out time to invest in your child’s education and ensure success at school,” said National Education Association President Reg Weaver. “To get the most out of parent-teacher conferences, parents need to take an active role in their child’s education year-round and come prepared to discuss how their child can reach their full potential.”

The NEA is the largest educational organization in the country, representing 3.2 million educators. Here are their tips for getting the most out of parent-teacher conferences.

Get Ready. Do your homework prior to parent-teacher conferences. Prepare by writing notes to yourself concerning:

  • Any questions about the school’s programs or policies.
  • Things you can share with the teacher about your child and his life at home.
  • Questions about your child’s progress.

Ask Important Questions. Don’t be afraid to engage in a frank conversation with your child’s teacher. Your goal is to develop an action plan for your child’s success at school. Good questions to ask the teacher include:

  • What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • How does my child get along with classmates?
  • Is my child working up to her ability? Where could she use improvement?
  • What can we do at home to support what you are doing in the classroom?

Initiate the Action Plan. Start immediately on the action plan you and the teacher put together. Discuss the plan with your child and track his progress. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher throughout the year with regularly scheduled “report card” conferences that can keep the communication lines open.

“Parents are the best resource for a child to make the grade,” said Weaver. “When teachers and parents work together, we can help a child have a successful school year.”

These tips were provided by the National Education Association.

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