Instead of feeling a sense of dread, you can take a positive approach to parent-teacher conferences. Believe it or not, students, families, and educators can feel nervous over the meeting. Conferences happen one to four times a year depending on whether the school has semesters or quarters. The reason for the conversation doesn’t always indicate bad news or a troubled student. It gives all parties a chance to effectively come together and have open and honest conversations. Parent involvement plays a strong role in a child’s academic success and conferences have benefits. Teachers can get pointers to prepare for the event on this KidsHealth article.
Families can also actively participate and get themselves ready for parent-teacher conferences. See how the landscape has changed in 2021 with this post that discusses new ways of learning. Here’s some ageless advice whether you have a virtual or in-person meeting. This is an update from our 2015 Parent-Teacher blog.
- Focus on the Child: Every student learns differently and has a unique personality. Some children are outgoing, and some are shy. When you know how your child’s doing in school, you can focus on their individual needs. Parents can work with the teachers to have a meaningful conversation for the student to succeed.
- Don’t Skip Out and Show Up: Sometimes settings and schedules can make the conference difficult to set up. With virtual schooling, you can schedule a video call with the teacher. During this meeting, you can discuss your child’s progress and how you can be more involved in their education.
- Be on Time: It’s tough to juggle everything when you have kids, but make sure you’re on time for the meeting. Parent-teacher conferences typically only take 10-30 minutes per child. Knowing that another family’s likely waiting after you and respect their time. Have a more productive meeting by being prepared. Keep a list of topics you’d like to speak about and questions you have.
- Open Lines of Communication: If you notice positive or negative behaviors or emotions your child’s been expressing, mention it. You can share what you’re seeing with the teacher who gives you an extra set of eyes. Share things about your child the educator may not know to enhance the learning experience.
- If Your Child’s Present: If your child is within an earshot, they will be able to hear what’s being said. Also, kids don’t forget things easily. Even if the conference is positive, students tend to feel apprehension. Children may not be required to attend, but sometimes they need to be there. Parents can try to arrange to have someone keep the child entertained during the meeting.
- Listen: Focus on what the teacher tells you and listen carefully. If you have any questions, ask and if you have concerns, voice them. Explain your point of view but be open-minded and listen to suggestions. The primary concern is always your child’s educational success.
- Address Problems: If your child has trouble in school, parents and teachers can address it calmly and civilly. Working together for the students’ best interests can achieve results if approached the right way.
- Keep Up Parent Involvement: Regularly visit the school, not only during parent-teacher conferences. Keep communication lines open with the teacher. You can reach out through email and mutually update each other on the child’s progress. The teacher may be able to provide assignments and you can also ask for other ways you can be involved.
Never assume that a parent-teacher conference is only for “bad kids.” All parties get an opportunity to strengthen the child’s learning experience. Parent involvement and working with teachers effectively helps students’ academic success.