Fall parent-teacher conferences are around the corner! Regardless of how your child is doing in school, it is natural to feel a bit nervous, especially if this is the first time you are meeting their teacher in person. For many parents, going to a parent-teacher conference can feel like being called into the principal’s office when do you don’t remember doing anything wrong and you don’t know what to expect. It’s easy to conquer these anxious feelings by preparing for the conferences beforehand and coming in with specific questions that will help you and the teacher have a targeted and meaningful discussion about how your child is doing in school both academically and socially.
Most teachers only have about 30 minutes to meet with each family, so coming prepared with an open mind and specific questions helps them as much as it helps you. Your child’s teacher is probably just as nervous about leading these meetings as you are about attending. Start the meeting off right by remembering that everyone in the room has nothing but the best intentions for your child. Then, try to focus the discussion around three target areas:
- How is my child doing academically? First and foremost, your child is at school to learn and it is important to be up to date on what skills and strategies they are learning in the classroom. Ask: “What are my child’s strengths and needs in reading?” “What kinds of books should my child read to practice skills or learn new skills?” You can also ask to see a sample of your child’s writing or bring a piece from home. Ask the teacher: “What did they do well in this piece?” “What can they still work on?”
- How is my child doing socially? Your child’s social development can have a huge impact on how well they are doing in school. Make sure to ask the teacher whether or not your child is comfortable working with other students and whether or not they seem comfortable within the classroom. Do they participate in lessons? Do they seem comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas?
- What can I do at home to help support my child’s learning? Now that you’ve discussed with the teacher what your child is learning in the classroom, and what it should look like when they are practicing at home. Ask, “What are some strategies I can employ at home to help my child address their needs in reading and writing?” “What are some questions that I can ask my child every day about your class?”
Coming prepared to a parent-teacher conference can help this experience be stress-free for everyone involved! A successful conference sets a strong foundation for a partnership between you and your child’s teacher. The most important thing is to not make the conference the only time you and the teacher communicate; try to spend the last few minutes of the conference coming up with a plan for how you can both check in about your child’s progress and how you can keep up this communication throughout the year.