I recently had my daughter’s spring parent-teacher conference. In preschool, we had conferences. However, somehow kindergarten conferences seem more formal. As a credentialed teacher myself, I have had many parent-teacher conferences. Thus, I knew what to expect and how to make the most of my 15 minutes. Here are a few tips, from a mom and a teacher, on how to have a successful parent teacher conference.
Don’t Wait Until it’s too Late
It’s always good to keep on top of your child’s behavior and school work. If your child’s teacher doesn’t give regular behavior, homework and classwork feedback, you might want to send out an email and ask about your child’s progress. Sudden changes in behavior at home or a reluctance to go to school are other reasons you might want to contact the teacher. Teachers should be open to have meetings at times other than report card conferences.
Be Prepared with Questions
Most teachers have back-to-back conferences. For this reason, you should come prepared with your most pertinent questions. For instance, How is my child doing socially or how can I improve _____’s writing grade, are two examples of questions a parent might ask.
Be Prepared for Constructive Criticism
If your child has a 100% perfect report card and behavior marks, you will likely be happy. However, many children will have trouble in at least one area. You might hear that your child is sometimes “off-task” or struggles with adding fractions. Although it can be hard to hear less than wonderful things about your child, you should try to be open to constructive criticism. On the other hand, a teacher shouldn’t say your child is “lazy” or “hates to read.” Make sure to ask your teacher how you can help your child do better. Finally, come up with some ideas on how to help the student.
Ask for Clarification
In my experience, grades are not as cut and dry as they used to be. Many elementary schools use numbers to express if a child is at, below or above grade level standards. Since I have worked in the education field, I understand report cards, standards and rubrics. However, if you don’t understand a grade or a system, you should ask for clarification. Also, if a writing sample or assessment is given a grade, you might ask for a rubric to see how to help your child. For instance, a child might not be proficient at writing due to a simple reason like punctuation. This is something that can easily be remedied.
As a former teacher, I know how hard it is to have 20-30 children to take care of, discipline and teach. For this reason, I always think it is important to thank a teacher for all of his or her hard work. On the other hand, for whatever reason, you might dislike your child’s teacher. A parent-teacher conference is not the time to let out all of your anger, make accusations or “talk down” to the teacher. Instead, be civil, relay your feelings and work together to do what is best for your child.
I hope you have a great parent-teacher conference!
More from Melissa:
5 Reasons Parents Shouldn’t Complain About Teachers on Social Media
How Involved Should Schools Be in the War on Obesity?
5 Characteristics of Good Elementary Schools (and How to Spot Bad Ones)