Be prepared and open-minded in your approach to the conference with your child's teacher, but also remember that you are your child's best advocate.
By Judy Molland
Think of the first conference of the school year as a chance for you and your child's teacher to establish rapport as teammates and figure out how you will work together. The conference provides a forum for you to explain your child's strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, interests and activities, as well as your own special concerns. Equally important, this is your opportunity to hear the teacher's perspective on your child's school performance and interactions with other children.
Many schools schedule a specific time for each conference. If you can't meet at that time, let the teacher know right away and arrange a different time. When you come, be punctual. During the conference stick to the allotted time frame; other parents are waiting for the next time slot, and the one after that. The most useful conferences are those in which both teachers and parents stay calm and try hard to work together for one purpose: to help the child do well.
Use the following tips to ensure your conference is a success:
- Ask your child what she wants you to discuss with her teacher.
- Write down specific questions and concerns.
- Write down things about your child's life at home. Note information about her personality habits and hobbies that you believe are important for the teacher to know.
- Decide on one or two major issues that you want to discuss.
- Be sure to bring paper and a pen.
- Arrange for childcare so that you can give your full attention to the conference.
A New Approach
While the standard format for the parent-teacher conference is still the norm in the fall, some schools are using a different model for the spring meeting: the student-led conference. Here, students show parents some of their work and explain their grades. The idea is that with the child leading the conference, she will be able to communicate not only how she is doing, but why.
Expert Judy Molland talks to us about how you can prepare to make the most of this important meeting. Listen now.
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