September marks the start of school for many families, and within a few short weeks or months, you will be meeting with your child’s teacher for your first parent-teacher conference of the year. One of the goals of the parent-teacher conference is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each student and communicate to the parents the areas that need improvement. The parent-teacher conference can help establish a good relationship between you and the teacher so that the student’s progress can be seen as a team effort. It is important to determine short-term and long-term goals for the rest of the school year to keep the student on track towards success.
In order to maximize the time spent with the teacher, you can prepare for the initial meeting in the following ways:
1. Talk with your child about how things are going in school. Discuss different aspects of the day in regards to academics and the social atmosphere. You can also ask your child some of the following questions to get a better understanding of his/her school day.
- Which subjects are difficult for your child?
- What does your child like best about school?
- Would your child like you to ask the teacher anything?
- If there could be any changes made to the classroom or structure to make it more of a comfortable learning environment, what would it be?
2. Write down any questions that you have for the teacher. After the first month or two of school, there may be specific questions you have for the teacher. Talk with any individuals who spend time with your child whether it is a babysitter, tutor, or instructors from an after-school program. They may have more insight on your child’s academic abilities as well as questions to ask the teacher.
During the Conference:
3. With a limited amount of time, stick to the main topics. The conference revolves around one person – your child. All school rules and policies can be found in the handbook or on the school’s website. Talk specifically about the strengths and weaknesses of your child and ways that you can help him/her succeed.
4. Develop a parent-teacher relationship. The parent-teacher conference is an opportunity to get to know the teacher and develop a relationship that can help set the tone for the rest of the year. A child’s academic success is a team effort; the students need the support not only in the classroom, but at home. By establishing a good relationship with the teacher, it allows you to be able to connect with the teacher throughout the year with any comments or concerns that may arise.
5. Have a stress-free conversation. Go into the meeting with an open mind and a positive outlook that both parties are there to help your child succeed. Remember that the teacher is not there to criticize your child, but to have an in-depth conversation about the student’s progress. Likewise, suggestions for the teacher can be delivered constructively, and a relationship of trust can be formed.
6. Try to save time to speak with your child’s other teachers. During the day, students go to other classes such as gym, art, and music. Other teachers may have additional comments and/or concerns regarding your child’s behavior in their class. If you are not able to meet with additional teachers on that day, ask the child’s main teacher if you can call to make an appointment.
After the Conference:
7. Discuss the conference with your child. Arriving home after a parent-teacher conference can be very stressful for your child. First, talk to your child about the positives, academically and socially. If there are struggles your child is encountering, discuss the ways you plan to help your child succeed. The goal is for the student to be proud of the accomplishments he/she has made thus far, and how to make an effective plan so that the rest of the year can be a success!