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parent teacher conferences

by on November 22, 2011

We are at the juncture of parent teacher meetings. Test results are out and teachers are meeting with parents. No matter what you think of your child, the teacher or the school, it’s important that your attend these meetings.

When the time comes for a parent-teacher conference, some parents may wonder what they’ll talk about, and other parents might even skip the meeting altogether because they’re nervous about the encounter. With the right preparation, though, parents will not only eliminate some of their apprehension, they’ll likely get more out of the conference and gain a better understanding of what they can do to help their child succeed. Careful preparation will also help parents set the stage for an ongoing relationship with the teacher.

Starting off on the right foot:
Initially, parents should work to establish rapport with the teacher. As an icebreaker, parents may take notice of something that reflects well upon the teacher. For example, thank the teacher for having made thoughtful notes on your child’s homework or for the special attention in helping your child learn to multiply. Often, at parent-teacher conferences, teachers will give parents examples of the student’s work and possibly a report card. This is a good time to have a conversation about teaching methods and how student progress is measured. Are students assessed through tests? Portfolios? Class participation? Projects? Parents may also ask the teacher to clarify any non-academic school policies.

How Is My Child Doing?
Since the average parent-teacher conference is about 20 minutes, parents should plan on covering only a few topics. When putting together a list of questions, parents are advised not to leave the most important ones for last.  Parents may consider asking some of the following questions about their child:

  • What is my child like during the day? Does he or she participate in class discussions/activities?
  • What are my child’s best/worst subjects? How can I help him or her improve in the areas that need work?
  • What are the standards for my child’s grade level?
  • How does my child interact with other children and adults?
  • How much help should I provide on homework assignments?
  • Is my child in different classes or groups for different subjects? How are these groups determined?
  • Is my child trying as hard as he or she can?

Including the student:
A growing number of middle schools and high schools are finding that including students in parent-teacher conferences gives the child a greater sense of responsibility for his or her learning. During the conference, students will often discuss portfolios containing pre-selected pieces of work. The student describes to the parents and teacher what is good about the work, what he or she learned, and where improvements can be made. If the student is not participating in the conference, parents may ask their child beforehand if he or she has any concerns about school. Also, parents may wish to ask the child what his or her strengths and weaknesses are, and what some favorite and least favorite subjects are. It will save time during the conference if parents have already discussed books, classes, and schedules with their child.

Parents may consider telling teachers about any significant changes that have taken place in the child’s life (such as the death of a pet, a grandparent who is ill, parents who are divorcing, or a family move), or important activities in which the child is involved (The Tutoring Center, 4-H, scouts, Karate, community service, an after-school job)

For more tips like these and others, please stop by and pickup a copy of our Newsletter. If your child is attending any of our centers, you should be getting a copy if not speak to your Center Director.

  1. As usual Tj, good post! As a parent of a teacher, I know it’s important that parents be in communication with their Child’s teacher. Especially if there are issues to deal with. Keep the posts coming!

  2. Tijo, even though I’m beyond the parent-teacher conference days, I recognize and appreciate good advice. Good post.

  3. Thank you guys. Hopefully its helpful for parents who may stumble upon it. I shared the link within our facebook page..

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