Fall is in the air, and that means parent teacher conferences are on the horizon. These meetings are a great time to check in with your child’s teacher (or teachers) and express any concerns, or ask any questions you may have. While teachers are open to communication all throughout the year, parent teacher conferences are a great time to have a face to face meeting and convey things that could be difficult through email. Read on to find out how to maximize your next parent teacher conference!
Being late can really start your conference off on the wrong foot. Oftentimes a teacher has several conferences scheduled back to back, which means that if you go over it will eat into someone else’s time. And being late shortens the time to talk about your concerns, and can make you feel rushed and disorganized. Always plan on being a little early so that last minute traffic doesn’t get in your way, and you will be able to utilize the full time slot for talking about what matters most. Along with being on time, don’t go over your scheduled time. There are probably other parents waiting, or things that the teacher would like to get to. If you are not feeling like one conference is enough to talk about the issues you have, schedule another time slot to finish up.
Conference With Your Child
You definitely should plan a time to catch up with your child before a conference. Kids can change their minds quickly, and that teacher they didn’t like at the beginning of the year can become a favorite by winter break. Even day to day your kids can feel drastically different about their school experience, so be sure to talk to them about their current concerns. You might need to get specific, and be sure to ask them about homework, classroom dynamics, and if they have anything they would like you to say to their teachers. Your child can give you insights that you may not have thought of, and are the ones who know the details of the school day.
Make a List
When you are in the middle of your meeting will you remember that history is confusing for your child, that the last math test was their favorite, or that the book they chose for their book report is proving to be too difficult? Probably not, which is why it is important to make a list to bring with you that contains all the points that you want to touch on. Making a list can keep you on track with the most pressing issues, can remind you of questions you want to ask, and help you be specific when talking about tests or homework assignments. A list will also make you more organized, and hopefully help you get more out of your conference.
You can set the tone for your relationship with your kid’s teacher. If this is your first meeting, introduce yourself (don’t assume they know who you are!) and smile—you want to be on friendly terms. Even if you feel you have some tough subjects to discuss, approaching the meeting with a good attitude can help solve problems and put everyone at ease. You and the teacher are partners in your child’s education, and everyone should be working toward a common goal of growth and learning.
You love your child, but you know that they are not angelic all of the time. No child is perfect, and your child’s teacher gets to see them 5 days a week, for the entire school year—problems are bound to arise. If your child is forgetting to turn in homework, talking during class, or causing other disruptions, it can be hard to hear. Be ready to address some of the negatives as well as the positives, and don’t get defensive. Teachers want to share with you any potential problems so that you can work together to solve them, not to pick on your kid. Try to be constructive and find solutions rather than be defensive or angry.
You don’t need to share every family detail at a parent teacher conference, but if there are personal situations that affect your child’s performance at school, you should make the teacher aware of them. A divorce, or a death in the family, can greatly affect a child, and could cause their schoolwork to suffer. They may act differently towards their classmates, or show signs of withdrawal or anger. Let the teacher know about any situations like this so that they can be more empathetic and understanding, and work to help your child. If your child is doing well in school, but comes home crying about being bullied, the teacher needs to know! While teachers are usually good about seeing classroom dynamics, there are definitely things that they don’t see, and you should let them know if your child is struggling.
Leave on a Positive Note
Ending the conference on a positive note is essential for keeping the parent-teacher partnership going, and working together to help your child grow. If you see a volunteer opportunity that you could fill in the classroom, pledge your time to make a positive impact. Make sure the teacher knows how to contact you in the future, and that you always want to stay in touch regarding your child’s school experience.
Hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of your next parent teacher conference! Having a conference early in the year will set your child up for success, and address any concerns before they become problems. If you are looking for a great school in Loveland, CO with classes from kindergarten through middle school, New Vision Charter School is a great choice—find out more today!