Yesterday, it was parent/teacher conference time at my children’s school. I met with the first grade and 3rd grade teachers for my middle sons. My daughter’s Kindergarten conference comes in November. I love sitting down with my children’s teachers to talk about my children’s progress and what we need to work on for the year.
Before writing this post, I checked with my friend Julie of Julieverse, a former elementary school teacher and current director of her school’s PTO, for her advice to parents on this topic. Julie has written extensively on her blog about education from both perspectives, including a recent series about helping children with their homework. Julie feels the most important thing for parents to remember is:
Be open minded — your child’s teacher may see a very different child than you see at home; that’s normal and expected. Use this opportunity to discuss what the teacher sees and how you child responds to school at home.
If you remember nothing else from this post when you walk into your first parent/teacher conference, remember Julie’s advice – Be Open.
5 tips for parents for parent/teacher conferences
1. Lay the groundwork before you go to the conference.
One of my favorite tools for doing this is the letter I write to my children’s teachers before school starts. In the letter, I introduce myself to the teacher, share a little about my child’s interests, and talk about their strengths and weaknesses. I provide contact information for myself at the end. Each year, my children’s teachers mention the letter during the conference.
2. Come prepared with a few questions.
Many conferences are only about 15 to 20 minutes long. The teacher has her own agenda to cover with you; she’ll provide time for you to ask your questions.
3. Come with an open mind.
Comfortable in his home environment, your child may act very differently at home. Talking to your teacher gives you a more complete picture of your child in the world.
4. End the conference on a positive note.
I always thank the teachers for their time, and point out something specific that I appreciate. Teachers have our children’s best interests in mind, just like us. They also spend a year working with our children, and in my children’s case, also encounter my children during school and lunch time. It’s up to me as a parent to keep the relationship positive and beneficial for my children.
5. If you feel you need to discuss an issue further, follow up after the conference and ask for another one.