This posting is based on a segment on parent involvement airing on Colorado & Company October 1, 2007, at 10:00 (KUSA – NBC Denver – Channel 9). I spoke as an educational expert on this topic.
It’s that time of year – when your children’s schools offer you the opportunity to visit and meet their teachers.
The following simple tips will help you make the most of the parent-teacher conference:
- Go! Nothing shows a teacher that you care more than your presence – and an indication of your willingness to work TOGETHER with him or her in the best interest of your child. If you need to bring siblings – GREAT! As a teacher, I loved meeting the siblings of my students for many reasons – not the least of which was that the younger ones knew to look for me when they got to high school!
- Come prepared with questions, concerns, etc. These can be garnered during the in-depth, ongoing conversations that you have with your child about what’s going on in school. For example, if your child comes home from school telling you that he or she is being bullied, bring that up with the teacher at the meeting. It’s important to make your concerns known so that the teacher and school principal has the opportunity to help you resolve the issue.
- Ask your child’s teacher how you can support his/ her efforts at home. Supporting by supervising homework is great – teaching new concepts or “helping” with homework that appears to be too difficult or that introduces new concepts/ skills/ topics is frustrating for all parties involved. If you feel your child’s homework is too time-consuming or difficult, let your child’s teacher know. It’s possible that he or she just hasn’t gotten feedback about the homework, and might need some help understanding what to send home.
- If your concerns are not addressed in the short period that you have to meet with your child’s teacher, ask for an appointment to come back for more at-length discussion. If you don’t think the teacher can help you resolve your concerns, go to another school professional you feel might be able to help. Keep notes about conversations – who you spoke with, about what, when, etc. These can come in handy later when you need to explain what you have done to resolve such conflicts.
- Follow up. Keep those conversations with your child and his or her teacher going. Remember; you, your child, and your child’s teacher are a team focused on the goal of your child’s academic success. The more involved and respected everyone feels, the better.
- Every child has some problems with learning and education, even the best ones. You must be the first shoulder your child will rely on. Many parents, unfortunately, become blind and don’t want to accept that fact, so the problems just get bigger. Accept it and use it to get stronger together.
Here are some more links to advice about how to get the most out of parent-teacher conferences (I apologize in advance for all the ads for ADD medications – medicating children with ADD is a serious matter, only to be undertaken under close medical scrutiny; I’m bothered by the push for medication but think the content of these sites is, otherwise, very informative):