It’s that time of year. Many schools have scheduled fall parent-teacher conferences as the midpoint or end of the schools’ first marking period approaches. These meetings with your child’s teachers are a vital opportunity to build the team that supports each student— and yet most conferences are scheduled in blocks of 30 minutes or less! Planning ahead for the parent-teacher conference can help you to make the most of the experience.
Remember that you are the expert on your child, while the teacher is the expert on teaching. The best outcome of a parent-teacher conference is enhanced collaboration on the team that supports your child.
Back to Basics wants to be part of that team! One of our specialties is great communication with your child’s teacher. Contact us to learn about the ways we can help.
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- Review any information the teacher has shared about the curriculum, teaching methods, and assessment practices for the class. You may have heard it from your own teachers or professors, but the advice “Read the syllabus” holds just as true for your child’s classes. Knowing the how and why of your child’s courses will help you to formulate good questions.
- Gather as much information as you can, based on information your child has brought home so far. This information can include report cards or progress reports, work your child has brought home, comments your child’s teacher has shared regarding assigned work, or a printout of your child’s gradebook if it’s posted online.
- Discuss school with your child. Of course, you’ll want to talk about grades, but you should also ask about how they get along with classmates, what the day-to-day experience is like in the classroom, and any concerns they might have. Asking what your child thinks are the most important points to cover at the conference can provide some great points for discussion.
- Prepare whether your child is doing poorly, or whether they are doing well. If your child is struggling in class, your preparation can help you to ask specific questions about why, and you can all work together to improve performance and outcomes. If your child is doing well in class, plan to use the conference time to ask about ways you can support their strengths, or to explore extended learning or enrichment opportunities, such as clubs or interest groups.
- Organize and prioritize. Spend some time ahead of the conference to select the most important points to discuss— the most critical topics you want to hit before ‘time’s up.’ Put these on paper. If there’s a long list, you may want to reach out to your child’s teacher via email or phone before the conference to compare notes, or schedule some additional time before or after the official meeting.
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- Arrive early. Conferences are usually on a tight schedule. By arriving a few minutes early, you’ll ensure that you can make the most of the time available to you.
- Lead with a positive. Make sure the team that supports your child starts on the best possible note by leading with a compliment or expression of appreciation. Share something that you or your child has noted is going well— ‘He loves being able to choose his own books,’ or ‘I really appreciated the notes you shared in your progress update.’
- Address concerns respectfully. Your conversation should be a give-and-take exchange. Give the teacher a chance to respond to items on your priority list, and make sure to listen to to the teacher’s concerns, too. Take careful note of the strategies recommended by the teacher.
- Establish the communication protocol. Ask the teacher how they like to communicate, and how often—whether by e-mail, phone calls, or notes passed home with assignments. Let the teacher know how important good communication about your child’s progress is for your team.
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- Discuss the meeting with your child. Whether or not your child attended the conference, take some time on the same day, or shortly after, to discuss the problems and solutions that were covered.
- Follow up. If your team agreed that something needs to be addressed with your child, take steps to put the plan in motion. Whether it’s subject tutoring, work on study skills, educational consulting, psycho-educational evaluation, or extra support so they can achieve their best, we can help.
If your child needs educational help in any subject, Back to Basics is the only call you need to make.