My experience as a learner with Parent-Teacher conferences has differed throughout the years. I have very vivid memories of sitting with a book in the hallway while my parents met with teachers about my brother and I, and then hearing feedback about my areas of strength and ALL the things I needed to work on (often the same things, that we had heard in previous years!)
As an enrolling teacher, I looked forward to Parent-Teacher conferences, as they so often gave me a glimpse of my students through their parents’ eyes. I looked forward to connecting to parents on how we, together, could continue to support their child to achieve even greater successes.
The Harvard Family Research Project within the Harvard Graduate School of Education cites that “A growing body of evidence suggests that family engagement matters for student success. Research shows that family engagement improves school readiness, student achievement, and social skills. Furthermore, an increasing number of innovative approaches to education leverage and connect the many settings and times in which children learn and grow to create seamless complementary learning systems that place families as core partners in the learning process.”
To that end, here is a list of tips that parents may wish to consider in order to make the best of their Parent-Teacher Conference time[i]
Before the conference
- Ask your child how they feel about school.
- Ask your child if there is anything they wish for you to talk about with their teacher.
- Make a list of topics that you want to talk about with the teacher.
- Prepare a list of questions such as:
- What are some of my child’s strengths and areas for growth?
- Does my child complete work on time?
- Does my child participate in class?
- Does my child seem happy at school?
- What can I do at home to help?
During the Conference:
- Be on time.
- Be sure to share your thoughts and feelings about your child. Tell the teacher what you think your child is good at. Explain what he or she needs more help with.
- Relax and be yourself.
- Ask the most important questions first.
- Ask for explanations of anything you don’t understand.
- Make a follow-up plan with your child’s teacher as necessary.
- Communicate with the teacher the best way to reach you in future.
- End the meeting on time. Other parents will probably have a conference after yours.
After the conference
- Talk about the conference with your child; Talk about the positive points, and be direct about problems.
- Tell your child about any plans you and the teacher created.
- Keep in touch with the teacher during the school year.
I look forward to seeing you in the hallways over the coming week!
[i] Some tips adapted from http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/tips-parents-parent-teacher-conferences