Monday, September 28, 2009

Parent Teacher Conferences

It’s hard to believe that so much of the first quarter of this new school year is already behind us. And that means Parent Teacher Conferences are just around the corner. These conferences can sometimes be so daunting. How do you make this easier?

Today, Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor of Washington FAMILY Magazine and an educator, shared Parent Teacher Conference suggestions during the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9.

Amy suggests:

First, look at the goal of the conference. It’s to open communication with the teacher. You’re not going to be able to address in-depth issues in 15 minutes. It is more of a springboard to get communication rolling. In fact, in our family, we don’t wait until the end of the quarter to meet with our kids’ teachers. We always schedule a conference within the first few weeks of school so that we’ve already interfaced with the teacher from the get-go.

Before the conference:
Take some time to think through anything you want to share with the teacher or questions you may have and jot them down. Conferences go quickly and this way you won’t forget something important, especially if there are concerns or large issues you need to discuss. Also, ask your child if there is anything he wants you to talk about. Sometimes children have questions that are hard for them to bring directly to the teacher.

When you’re actually in the room meeting with the teacher:
Be on time and end on time. It is so tempting to keep talking, but often teachers have conferences scheduled back-to-back. Again, this meeting is hopefully the start of an on-going conversation. If you can’t cover everything, introduce your main points and set up another meeting for a later date.

You will have questions and the teacher will have information to share. Take turns being a good listener and a concise speaker, which can be very hard when you are talking about your child.

During the meeting, write down action items, decisions or questions to discuss further. At the end of the meeting, review those items so that you and the teacher are both working on the same goals.

After the conference:
If you have anything to put into action or follow up on, get started right away. A post conference email is always a good idea, both to thank the teacher for her time and to clarify goals, plans and questions.

Most importantly, keep in touch with the teacher throughout the year. You are not restricted to the one or two conferences a year. Your child’s education should be a partnership between you and the teacher. Research shows that children whose parents are involved in their education are more successful at school. So ask what you can do at home and be involved in your child’s school.

Here are some lists that might help.

Things to remember:
What is the Goal of the Conference?
Communication is Key.
Consider Scheduling Early in the Year

Prepare for Conference
Think through questions.
Write them down.
Ask your child for questions.

Day of Conference Tips
Be on time.
Introduce your main points.
If needed, set up another.
Be a good listener.
Take notes.
Review notes at the end.

After the conference?
Take action.
A post conference email.
Keep in touch with the teacher.
Ask what you can do at home.
Be involved in your child’s school.

For more articles and resources about “Parent Teacher Conferences,” visit the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site -

Do you have some Parent-Teacher Conference tips that you use? Please let us know and we can share with other parents.

Happy Parenting,

Article Links -- to some interesting articles

Getting Ready for the New School Year

Vision and Reading Skills

Parental Involvement

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