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Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences
Be on time. With parents scheduled back-to-back, start the meeting off right by showing up on time for your appointment.
Be prepared. Develop a list of questions for your child's teachers about your child's educational development or educational needs. Also, before heading to the conference, talk to your kid to discover his or her concerns and review returned homework. Is your son having trouble with a particular subject? Has your daughter expressed having difficulties in certain areas?
Be positive. Approach teachers as professionals and bring up positives you've heard from your child about the class. While the negatives can (and should) be mentioned, starting off on a negative note may send the wrong message to the teacher and create a more contentious meeting. Let a teacher know what might be discouraging your child, suggesting if you child needs more attention or other praise to perform better in the classroom.
Be specific. Is there an example from homework that you can draw upon to illustrate a concern? If so, bring it. Tell the teacher what has been working at home but instead of dictating how a teacher should be treating your child, let the teacher know that five pages of math seems to overwhelm your son, but sticking to two per night works better for him. Is there something that can be worked out so he feels less overwhelmed?
Be cooperative. With your child's strengths and weaknesses in mind, help to devise a plan with the teacher. If you are not in the classroom regularly, include a definite effort to communicate and regularly follow through during the school year.
Be prepared to share. If the teacher asks how life is at home, let them know what's going on, be it the arrival of a new baby, a recent separation or the death of a grandparent. Major events can affect a student's performance and might provide a hint to the teacher, especially if there have been any disciplinary difficulties. Trust the professionalism of a teacher who will respect your privacy.
In the book, How to Talk So Kids Can Learn: At Home and In School, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish suggest that in the school conference, parents and teachers have similar needs. These include mutual respect and acknowledgment of hard work, team work for educating your child, and "appreciation, information, and understanding from one another."
And, of course, it probably doesn't hurt to bring your child's teachers a piece or two of their favorite chocolate.
Related: Obama Has Perfect Attendance at Parent-Teacher Conferences
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