While, for many parents, it isn’t always the most anticipated time of the school year, parent-teacher conferences can be useful for everyone involved, including children. Whether they are struggling, right on track or regularly go above and beyond expectations, your child can truly benefit from this checkpoint. Here are some tips for getting the most out of parent teacher conferences.
Stay in the loop. Don’t wait until parent-teacher conference time to learn what your child is or is not doing. Stay in the loop about your child’s progress regularly. Ask your teacher to send you a weekly or bi-weekly email summary about their progress, whether good or bad. This doesn’t need to be long–just a few sentences about their status in the class. Many schools now offer the option of seeing your child’s grades online. Check them regularly and communicate with your child about their progress. Experts agree that a love of learning starts at home. Enrich your child’s learning process at home by supporting what they learn in the classroom.
Prepare. After speaking with your child about their classroom experience, come up with some questions for conference day. Review your child’s recent homework assignments, tests and quizzes. If you notice an area they are struggling with, include some questions for the teacher about the best way to address this issue.
Attend the meeting. While this seems like an obvious action to take, you would be surprised how many parents pass up their parent teacher conference. Don’t waste this opportunity to get a more detailed report on your student’s progress. According to the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and the National Coalition for Parental Involvement in Education (NCPIE), children whose parents participate in their school have higher grades and test scores and better attendance, and are more likely to be well adjusted and enjoy school.
Focus. According to experts, a good parent-teacher conference should cover three major topics: the child, the classroom and the future. Don’t waste this time using it to berate your child’s teacher. If there is a problem, consider working it out over email or on a phone call prior to conference day. Instead, use this time to show your child that both you and their teacher are working together and that both you care about their progress.
Listen. If your child’s teacher brings up areas for improvement, don’t get defensive. It’s important to support your child’s teacher and show your child that you and their teacher are on the same side.
Involve Your Child. Send your child the message that they are responsible for their own success. Don’t leave them at home or out of the conversation. Consider pushing for a student-led conference. This approach will encourage your child to be reflective on the connection between their effort and their quality of work.
With these tips, you can be sure to make the most out of your parent-teacher conference. By learning all you can about your child’s progress and how to best support their teacher, this preventative measure can be the key to your child’s success.