How to Effectively Handle Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher meetingThe reasons for a parent-teacher conference vary, but most frequently it’s so that a teacher can communicate to a parent how a child is performing in school, both academically and behaviorally. Because parents aren’t in class with their child, the parent-teacher conference is a valuable opportunity to meet the person who teaches your child and to get feedback on how you can help your child continue to develop strong learning habits.

A child is almost certainly nervous about a meeting between his or her teacher and parents, and you may feel a few “butterflies” in your stomach as well. That’s natural, so there’s no need to worry.

As a parent who wants to help your child succeed, you may be concerned that you may not ask all of the right questions or may not be able to benefit from the meeting. Whether or not that is the case for you, you may want to consider these tips for parent-teacher conferences:

Choose an early appointment time. If the proposed meeting days and times fit your schedule, try to select one of the first available times. The teacher will sometimes have similar conversations with 30 or more parents in a very small window of time, so it’s easy to imagine how the conversations can start to blend together. By scheduling an early appointment, you’ll be speaking with your child’s teacher when he or she is feeling fresh.

Talk with your child before the meeting. Before meeting with your child’s teacher, be sure to talk with your child about the upcoming meeting. Your child may have questions that he or she wants you to ask, or may relay information or concerns that you should know about before meeting with the teacher. At the parent-teacher conference, be sure to address any valid concerns that your child may have.

Write down your questions in advance. Before meeting with your child’s teacher, write down on a sheet of paper or note down in your smart phone the questions that you want to ask, and then take them to the meeting. Once the conversation begins, it can be easy to forget a few important questions that you may have wanted to ask, especially if you have a number of questions. By taking the list of questions with you, you can help ensure that you will receive all of the information you seek.

Stay on topic with regards to your child’s performance and behavior. Because of the limited amount of time for the parent-teacher conference, and because you may want to know more about a specific school policy, remember that instead of using up meeting minutes with general-information questions, you can always call the school and ask an administrator for the more general information. It’s best to avoid spending a significant amount of time discussing anything that isn’t directly related to your child’s performance or behavior.

Stay in contact with the teacher. Just because you only have, for example, a 20-minute session scheduled with your child’s teacher doesn’t mean that this is the only time during the school year that you can talk with the teacher. As your parent-teacher conference winds down, ask the teacher the method of communication that would work best for continuing the discussion during the year. Once you know, check in regularly with the teacher to learn if your child is improving and meeting the expectations set during the parent-teacher meeting.

Use these tips for parent-teacher conferences to help you get the most out of the meeting. Afterward, be sure to discuss with your child the ways in which he or she is doing well at school and what needs improvement, in order to better prepare your child for the rest of the school year.

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