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