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5 Ways to Prepare for Parent-Teacher Conference

The school bell has rung and classes have been in session for quite some time now. We’ve seen homework and quizzes and tests – big and small. Now, it’s the time that every student dreads :: Parent-Teacher Conference.

My kids are now in 5th grade and 7th grade, so I’ve seen my fair share of face-to-face meetings with teachers. In the beginning, I wasn’t really sure how to prepare or if I was even supposed to, and in truth, I’m still not sure. But, I have gathered a few tips that I hope will be helpful from preschool to high school.

Parent-Teacher Conference

  1. Ask your student about class and their teacher. What do they love and what holds them back? I think it’s very important to hear from your child about the class. With my kids, for example, my son might say, “I love that Mrs. Teacher gives us all of our homework on Monday – due Friday.” as his positive. His negative might be, “I have a hard time keeping my binder organized and seem to misplace things I need for the class.” Although these are things that might not be topics that I directly discuss with the teachers, it certainly gives me a bit of insight to what is happening with my child in class. I can use these as flags and triggers when I’m listening to the teacher speak of my child and can discuss as needed from the child’s perspective. {For example, “How are other kids organizing themselves? What can we do or buy that might help?”}
  2. It’s always important to know if your child is learning at grade level. Don’t ask the teacher to compare your child to anyone else in the class {or even in rank}, but it’s certainly okay to get specific about where they are performing as compared to the class or grade level as a whole. Or, for younger kids, ask about their developmental level as compared to other kids their age. This can open a few doors: should they be moved up? Can they receive remedial help or tutoring? {Our district junior high offers free tutoring before and after school!} Is their maturity or immaturity a stumbling block?
  3. Get input from the teacher about obstacles that they see ahead for your child in their class. Anytime that you can step in and begin to prepare ahead of the curve, it’s a good thing. You might hear, “Your daughter has some test anxiety, so remember that our standardized tests are coming up.” Use that as the opportunity to open a dialogue on how you can help! Teacher-parent is a partnership and the teacher is the expert. You are going to open the gate by asking what’s ahead, then heed their advice when they give it! Check back in from time to time and see how things are advancing or improving.
  4. We are certainly in a time of learning that is much different from when we were in school. For that reason, I think it’s especially important to learn about how technology is being used in the classroom and ways that you can reinforce that learning at home. When my daughter was learning to read, the teacher utilized classroom iPads with great sight word apps. We were able to download these same ones for extra practice. There are certainly lots of tools that are familiar to kids such as iStation and Edmoto. If these are ones that your kids are using daily and they can also be used at home, it’s important to know that!
  5. Don’t avoid the hard topics. I never want to be the parent that causes a stink or causes conflict, but sometimes things are happening and you need to address it. Come at these issues solution-minded, calm, and collected. Also, be sure that you are being mindful of the teacher’s time since conferences are often scheduled back-to-back. If you are running out of time or still have things to discuss, schedule additional time at a later date.

Advocating for our kids with and through our teachers is so important. We don’t ever want the first time a teacher sees or hears from us to be in a time of crisis. Stay in communication and in-the-know at all times. You’ll be an expert in no time, and your child will prosper in the end!

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