Think ahead about what you’d like to discuss with your child’s teacher and what questions you’d like to ask. Ask your child ahead of time if there is anything he’s concerned about or would like you to talk about in your conference. What they share may surprise you. You may also seek input from a spouse or a childcare provider, anyone who spends a lot of time with your child.
Write it down
Inevitably, you have some specific thing you’d like to ask the teacher and you’ve forgotten what it is when you walk into the classroom. So often, the teachers are on a tight schedule with parents stacking up outside their door, so you want to maximize your turn. Especially if you have more than one child, writing down some notes and questions is even more important.
Hear what your child’s teacher wants to share with you about your child. Does she see things that you’re not aware of? Can she provide information about your child’s social interactions, respectfulness of others and general manners and behavior when they’re outside of your purvey? Perhaps he has some worries about your child academically or organizationally.
Hear what she is saying without evaluating or judging. Listen with an open mind to learn more about your child and how she may be perceived or where he may be struggling. Your child’s teacher sees your child in a unique setting for at least six hours a day. She has a valuable perspective and insight into your kiddo.
Ask for suggestions
Ask the teacher how you can help support what she is doing in the classroom. Ask for specific ideas on how you can encourage or assist your child’s learning at home.
During the parent teacher conference with my daughter’s third grade teacher, she taught me a useful method to help my daughter increase her reading speed. I have her read a book that she already knows, a book a little below her reading level and have her read it aloud fast. As fast as she can and it should be accurate, no skipping words. This exercise will help her eye movement and tracking. It will improve her comprehension, too, as the texts they read in older grades get more technical. The teacher explained that as textbook content increases in difficulty, kids read slower and comprehension suffers. This conference discussion taught me the value of supporting my daughter to pick up her reading speed at eight years old for long-term success.
Schedule another appointment
If you feel like the brief check-in of parent teacher conferences isn’t enough time to delve into the needs of your child or the issues you wanted to discuss, make another appointment with the teacher.
It’s important to maintain open communication with your child’s teacher, before, during and beyond November parent teacher conferences. Advocating for and bolstering your child and teaming up with her teacher is of ongoing value to your child’s school success.