During the academic year, usually near the end of the first marking period, schools invite (encourage) parents to come in for parent teacher conferences. Conference time can create all kinds of anxiety for parents. It’s not your turf. You’re not sure what to expect. Here are a few tips to make the most of these conferences.
Make and keep an appointment. As a parent, the first and most important step is your involvement. Attending the conference is essential to building a relationship with your child’s teacher and opening up lines of communication. The simple fact that you are attending the conference sends a message to the teacher and your child that education is important.
Go in prepared. Part of being prepared is knowing what’s expected of your child. There are many resources available to help you identify what your child should be learning and the academic benchmarks that measure success. Ask your child beforehand how his/her classes are going and make note of any concerns. Have your questions or concerns written down for the conference to be sure that are all addressed.
Build rapport. Be respectful. Be on time. Let the teacher know you value their time and treat the teacher with respect. Most conferences are all held over the course of a day or two meaning your child’s teacher will be in back-to-back meetings during this time. Each family has different questions and concerns. These are long days for everyone.
Assume the teacher is on your side. Approach the teacher like a partner in helping your child succeed.
Think like a problem-solver. If you’re feeling defensive because the teacher is sharing challenges – listen, then talk. Steer the conversation towards solving the problem together.
Collaborate. You know your child better than anyone. Don’t make excuses, but do help the teacher to better understand your child’s strengths, challenges, needs, and circumstances. Communicate what you are seeing at home. Teachers want to support their students.
Ask for help. Be the advocate your child needs. If your child is struggling for example, having trouble with homework, falling behind the other students, or when you know something isn’t right – ask for help. If you want more definitive answers, you might consider diagnostic testing. A complete evaluation and comprehensive report including the assessment results, test scores, diagnosis and recommendations for moving forward is essentially, the roadmap to help you and your child’s teachers better meet your child’s needs.
Commit to continued communication. Inquire about the teacher’s preferred method of communication. Let it be known that you are an active participant in your child’s academic achievement and you are available for further discussions. Maintaining the relationship will make both you and the teacher feel comfortable bringing up ways to support your child’s success all year.
The Summit School serves students, grades 1-8, with dyslexia and other learning differences. Summit believes every child has the potential to excel. With small class sizes, highly trained faculty and research-based methodologies, Summit students make measurable progress and are prepared for success in high school and beyond. The Summit Resource Center, a division of The Summit School, offers diagnostic testing services, individual tutoring, summer camps and programs, consultations, workshops and seminars. For more information about The Summit Resource Center contact Nancy Rhodes at .