It’s almost that time of year again: the parent-teacher conference. This is a meeting between you and your child’s teacher to discuss your child’s progress in school so far. As a teacher, I cannot stress how crucial a strong partnership between the teacher and parents is in the education of children. The open communication with parents makes it easier for us to address issues before they become a problem and also share in your child’s achievements together. Here are some tips on how you can prepare:
- Before the meeting, talk to your children. Ask them about their favourite and least favourite subjects and if they would like you to talk to the teacher about anything. It is important to involve your children in their own learning so try to get your children’s input whenever you can. This involvement from an early age will show them that they can come to you with any concerns.
- Your children’s teachers may show you samples of your children’s work, discuss their progress, classroom behaviour and/or ask if you have any questions. So it is a good idea to come prepared with some questions. You want to consider all areas of school, including your children’s study habits, social skills, classroom participation, expectations for the school year, and/or what you can do at home to help them progress. If your child is receiving any special services (English classes, gifted program, speech or occupational therapy, or support for a learning difference) make sure you ask about the progress he/she is making and how often the support is being given.
- Make sure you arrive on time to the consultation. If possible, arrive a few minutes before your scheduled time so you have time to review your notes and questions beforehand.
- The meeting offers a good opportunity for you and the teacher to develop a plan together to help your child succeed. You both have an important role to play in the process. As the parent, you know your child’s personality, habits, strengths, weaknesses and even insecurities. While the teacher has been professionally trained in how to use methods/strategies to meet the individual needs of students. Together you can develop a plan with the necessary resources and accommodations tailored to your child’s needs.
- After the meeting, go over what was discussed with your child. Make sure you emphasize the positive points but be honest about any problems too. Explain the plan you and the teacher discussed and ask your child for feedback. Getting your child to contribute to the plan will help them learn how to be an independent learner.
- Put the plan in action. Make sure that you keep in touch with the teacher and continue to check in with your child to see how the action plan is working out.
By Julie Diamond – President, Teachers to Go
Photo credit: frankieleon via Foter.com / CC BY
I dreaded parent teacher evenings. 3 of my 7 were at the same school and I had to try to see all of their teachers but there were no appointments and it was an awful lot of just standing around and waiting to get to the head of the queue.
Wow! That sounds frustrating and very unorganized. Hopefully this year is a better experience for you.
Thanks for the tips. I like the idea of talking to the kids before hand.
Great to hear! I’ve found this incredibly effective in the student’s success. As parents and teachers we can try every trick in the book but if the child isn’t on board (or aware of the goals) it’s a struggle.
I also think the success of parent teacher interviews depends on the teacher. We have had great teachers and some that were just plain horrible. I think developing a good relationship with the principal and parent advisory counsel can make difference in your child’s success.
I agree. If the teacher isn’t pulling his/her weight, then the interview can be frustrating. I think student success lies in the open communication between all those involved – parent, teacher, principal, Special Education ERT/Educational Assistant (if applicable) and student. If any of those involved aren’t contributing, it won’t be successful.
I have a love hate relationship with this meeting
I love hearing progress and accomplishments and setting goals
I hate the bit picking and expectations that sometimes seem impossible to achieve when juggling a life and work balance with our kids
I totally understand! Being a parent is a job that requires so much multi-tasking and energy that it can seem impossible. If you involve your child in his/her own learning from a young age you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much it’ll pay off as they go through middle and high school. As an independent learner he/she will have a good idea of strengths and weaknesses and be able to tell you if/when help is needed. However, not all students feel comfortable advocating for themselves so sometimes it’s also nice to be able to reach out to an education professional to alleviate the pressure for both of you. Either way, here’s hoping this year’s meeting goes smoothly for you!
Great tip it’s always good to take to your children before a teacher interview.
My childhood parent conferences were actually fun. They had a BBQ beforehand.