It's that time of year again when parents have a chance to sit down with their child's teacher to check in on how the school year has been going thus far. This is crazy to believe, since it seems like just yesterday was the transition from summer to school year and the sun was beaming down on us, and flip flops were appropriate footwear!
The parent teacher conference is a wonderful opportunity for a parent to voice any concerns they may have, to check in on their child's social-emotional well-being in the school environment, and to clear up any confusion about homework policies.
Here are a few tips to help your parent teacher conferences be productive and worthwhile.
1. Preparation is key.
Parent teacher conferences are often time limited, so prepare for the conference by jotting down any concerns or questions you have ahead of time. This will save you time during the conference and will avoid that annoying "oh I forgot to ask about that" thought occurring on your drive home. In addition to your child's academics, consider asking questions regarding your child's socialization and self-advocacy skills.
- Is my child forming and maintaining positive relationships with students and staff?
- Does my child request assistance when needed?
- Does my child request assistance from staff too often and would benefit from increasing their own self-help skills?
Let these questions guide your conference so you have the information regarding your child’s main areas of functioning within the classroom
2. Bring documentation
Fill up a folder with work samples, homework assignments, print outs of grading data, etc. Having these documents handy is crucial when discussing progress and achievement, and will help identify areas of weakness for your child. Being able to pinpoint specific skills that your child could use some extra assistance and reinforcement in will help alleviate these struggles. In addition to bringing in documentation, it's also a great idea to bring a notepad or laptop in order to jot down notes of your own. This will help you remember what was discussed and serve as a guide for future reference.
3. Ask what you can do at home
The home-school connection is critical for the success of our youngsters. Opening up a discussion with your child's teacher on what things you could address at home will enhance your child's learning and help reinforce positive school behavior. Asking questions like "is my child working up to her full potential?" can help initiate a discussion regarding learning styles and work habits. These can be carried over into the home.
After the conference, sit down with your child and share your child’s areas of strengths and weaknesses. Review any pertinent information and be sure to share the positives that were shared with you. Showing your child that you and the teacher are working together as a team will help strengthen the connection between home and school.