Be prepared !
We’ve begun a new school year. For those parents who do not necessarily have A+ students you more than likely feel a certain sense of anxiety whenever it’s time to meet and discuss your child’s achievements. Likely, you may feel worried about hearing negative comments. What parent wants to hear anything but praise concerning their children’s progress? I know I did. Unfortunately my experience was not always the best. Thankfully, my son’s teacher’s were always as concerned as I regarding my his academic achievement.
Concerned, caring teachers are a Godsend. This is not always the case, while care and concern may be present, some teachers will may only show as much enthusiasm for you child’s development as you do. If you are dry, uninterested or cold during the interaction, your session may include only the bare minimum. 1) Discussion about current grades 2) Your child’s classroom interaction and 3) questions/ comments on your part – and off you go. On to the next parent.
However, a good parent teacher session is only as good as you and your child’s teacher’s interaction. Whatever your child’s age, walking into the classroom prepared will make a smooth conference that will be educational for you and your child’s teacher.
Get ready for a parent-teacher conference by making a list of the questions you want to ask. A prepared parent with a positive attitude and an open mind is on the right track for creating a successful, year-long partnership with his child’s teacher.
Here are some questions to help you navigate the process:
1) Ask ‘how can we communicate on a regular basis?’
Ask which method of communication he or she prefers, email or telephone, and which time of day it is best to reach them. Make sure to keep a mental note of when the teacher returns calls or emails so that you can be sure to reach them should you have a serious issue to address.
2) What are the expectations for the school Year?
This is an important question to ask whether your child is in first grade or eleventh grade. Discussing the teacher’s goals for the year will prove to be a very significant part of all parent-teacher conferences. By getting an overview of the curriculum, it will help you and your child organize, manage their time and also structure after-school activities. Although you may receive this information during back-to-school night—the parent-teacher conference gives you the opportunity to ask specific questions and find out additional details.
3) Ask about your child’s social Interaction
Sometimes it’s hard to know what our children are like when they’re not under our own microscopes, so make a point to ask the teacher how your child gets along with others—does he or she have friends to sit with at lunch or is he or she isolated on the playground? It’s also a good idea to find out if your child prefers talking to one person or many simultaneously while at school. Answers to these questions will give you an idea of your child’s social interaction, that way it can be altered if need be. Good social interaction plays an integral role in your child’s social development. To learn more about social development please read “Teen Development…” and “How to Develop your child’s social skills”
4) Ask about you child’s classroom behavior
This topic goes hand-in-hand with the social aspect of school. Ask what your child is like in the classroom. Are they engaged? Do they raise their hand and / or ask for help and listen when the teacher talks? It’s obvious that our children are different in school than they are at home, but they equally test out new behaviors in both settings. Inappropriate classroom behavior can be a red flag for something else that is going on, whether at school or at home. If you discover your child is acting out in some form, it’s at this time that you can work with the teacher to outline any problem areas, such as any academic issues you are not aware of, such as ‘is your child being bullied?’
5) Social Media Usage
For middle-school and high-school parents, social is huge and at the forefront of everyone’s mind. With newer technologies our children are possibly one step ahead of us. You’ll want to ask if your child’s school or teacher has any social media policies or rules that you should be aware of?
Also ask whether your child’s school uses social media in the classroom. Also you’ll want to ask if your child is allowed to have a cell phone or iPod in class?
Some schools now incorporate social media into lesson plans.
6) Ask what you can do to support your child?
Be aware of the homework policy in your district and don’t be afraid to approach the teacher if the load your child receives is out of line with the recommendation, especially in the younger grades. If your child should need extra academic support, ask the teacher how the school handles those situations, such as by providing tutoring options? You should also ask, how the school identifies and manages bullying situations? Be as open-minded as as you can.
Just remember, education is a partnership between parents and the school, and it’s important that you have a list of topics and questions prior to the conference. This will ensure you and your child’s teacher will have open lines of communication and can address any issues and, of course, celebrate any successes.
Please comment below, I’d love to know your thoughts.
As always, until next time
xoxo’s ~ D. Linn Whorley