Thursday, February 19, 2015

Productive Parent-Teacher Conferences

It's mid-October and the school year is well underway.  I have finished assessments, gotten to know the children, their interests, friendships, strengths and areas of difficulty, and the first report cards have yet to go home.  I'm looking forward to 3 nights of parent conferences; 15 minutes when I can learn from the people closest to my students, what interests them, motivates them, or causes them difficulty.

When parents have prepared their own comments and questions, it makes the process truly collaborative - teacher and parents working toward the success of a child.  Here are some ways to make those 15 minutes count!

  • Ask your child if they have any concerns.  During the hectic pace of a school day, problems your child is having become forgotten, often surfacing during car rides or at bedtime.  Write these down, and ask the teacher about them.  Notify the teacher if there is anything happening at home that may affect your child's progress at school.  The death of a pet, the birth of a sibling, or a move to a new house all affect children in different ways, and often have an impact on school performance. 
  • Ask the teacher what they notice about your child during the school day.  A typical school day is 6.5 to 7 hours long.  The teacher can give you an idea about how your child works and plays with other children,  if she demonstrates areas of strength, or appears challenged.  Your child may have struck up a friendship in school that you can encourage  through play dates at home. The teacher spends a lot of time building a community of learners.  Find out how your child interacts with others her age within the classroom community.
  • Discuss homework.  Too much or too little?  How much should you help your child?  Should you  let her do the work on her own?  What is the best time to do homework?  Right after school, or is after dinner and soccer practice better?  Let the teacher know your concerns and ask her for her expectations.
  • Strengths and challenges.  Every child has areas of strength, as well as areas that could be strengthened. Does your child have an interest that could be a learning opportunity?  If he hates to write but loves Minecraft or shipwrecks, perhaps he can be encouraged to write a report on an area of interest to share with the class. Does your child struggle with timed math fact tests?  Help develop a strategy for increased practice (computer programs such Cool Math and Moby Max are great ways to strengthen math skills in a fun way.)
  • Plan for the future.  Ask what projects are upcoming and how to best prepare your child for them. Address and correct behavior concerns before they become ingrained habits.  Make a plan for growth toward established objectives.  Ask for more challenging work for your child if she appears bored by the classwork, or extra help if the work appears too challenging.
A parent-teacher conference is a great time to advocate for your child in partnership with your child's teacher.  Keep lines of communication open, and remember that teachers work with children to help them grow and learn.  They really want what's best for your child, as do you.  Developing this relationship will help your child soar!

No comments:

Post a Comment