School is back in session. Your family is settling into their daily routine. Now is the perfect time to establish an open line of communication with your child’s teacher through a Parent-Teacher Conference.
Maintaining proactive communication early and often can secure success for our little ones. But as busy parents, we know time is limited. So, taking advantage of the potentially limited opportunities we have to communicate with our children’s teachers allows us the chance to remain involved with their academic, social and emotional growth.
These last few weeks, teachers have been getting to know your child’s skill level and overall personality. Now, it’s time to schedule your child’s first Parent-Teacher Conference. To prepare, check out these tips – they’ve been a great help with my two little ones and for families visiting our clinic.
Do your homework before the meeting:
- Review assignments, grades and any progress reports
- Before the conference takes place, find an opportunity to sit with your child as he/she does homework in each subject. Understand their strengths and thought process first-hand.
- Chat with your child to gauge their feelings about the school year so far. Casual settings may encourage more discussion than a formal sit-down.
- Talk with other parents, past or present, from the same classroom about experiences
- Make a list of questions to ask and have your take prepared for discussion. Examples can be found here.
- Bring a notepad, pencil or pen, samples of your child’s work and any concerns
During the conference:
- Start with an informal conversation to get to know more about your child's teacher and build rapport.
- Keep in mind the teacher’s perspective: you and the teacher have your child’s best interests in mind, which will allow you both to keep him/her at the forefront of the discussion.
After the meeting, follow-up strategies to continue the conversation:
- End the Parent-Teacher Conference by scheduling the next formal point of contact
- Ask the teacher how he/she prefers to communicate (email, note, phone calls, etc.)
- Maintain consistent, open communication by chatting briefly at drop off and pick up
- Think of ways to remain involved, such as volunteering inside the classroom or on a future field trip
Final words of wisdom
Try to keep these principles from the Harvard Family Research Project in mind for productive and effective communication in every Parent-Teacher Conference:
- Best intentions assumed
- Emphasis on learning
- Home/school collaboration
- Examples and evidence
- Active listening
- Respect for all
- Dedication to follow-up
Parent-Teacher Conferences do not have to be as intimidating as they may seem. As long as you come prepared and establish an ongoing way to remain connected with your child's team, you can count on a positive and productive start to your year!