Even before your child was born, you vowed to make education a priority. Now that your child is in school, parent-teacher conferences are a critical ingredient in making her educational experience the best it can be. Careful preparation before the conference will get you ready to ask all the questions you have and to follow up with the necessary actions.
Get out a notebook with plenty of paper and a pencil. Write down your initial questions. If you want to know about your child’s reading level or mathematical abilities, note these concerns. Also, write down a list of things you are sure the teacher might need to know about your child. For instance, if you child’s teachers had concerns or problems the year prior, you may want to ask the teacher if she is seeing similar concerns this year. Don’t forget to talk with your child before you leave for the conference. Let him know you will be talking with the teacher, not because he is in trouble, but because you all want to make sure he is enjoying school and learning as much as he can. Ask him if he has any questions he wants you to ask the teacher or if he has any concerns. Write these questions down, and be sure to address them to further reinforce the idea that you all are working as a team.
Don’t go alone. Another set of ears and eyes can help you gain perspective at the conference. If your child is struggling, you may feel defensive or frustrated with the teacher. Another person can help you see where the teacher is coming from. That other person can also help you explain your child and your concerns. Bring your notepad, and be sure you get the chance to ask all the questions you want. Also, take the time to listen to the teacher, not only to her answers, but also to any additional topics she may have to discuss. Remember that you are all working together to see your child succeed. Ask about certain actions you can put into place to address everyone’s concerns–yours, your child’s and the teacher’s.
When you arrive home again, talk with your child about the conference. Answer any questions your child gave you. Let him know of any changes you are planning to implement, such as more homework time, less TV, earlier breakfast or other changes. Phrase the conversation in a positive manner so that it doesn’t seem like a punishment. The changes are designed to make your child’s school life better, not worse. Implement the changes soon so your child sees the emphasis you put on his success.