It’s the annual time of year to huddle up and talk about progress so far this school year…hard to believe it’s time again actually! We all know our learners thrive best when they feel all the adults in their lives see them in a consistent way. Personal conferences are a great way to interact, share, and problem solve together when discussing strengths and challenges while being one of the best ways to support each other in the home-school connection. Here are some tips on how to build a working relationship to benefit everyone:
Be there: Research shows children do better academically when both parents attend conferences and meetings together. If you need to reschedule the appointment, no worries; just let the teacher know.
Remember this word…Focus: The aim of a parent-teacher conference is for the adults in a the child’s life to build a mutually respectful alliance supporting the child’s journey through school.
Share insider information: Tell the teacher what you know about your child as a learner. YOU know what your child likes and dislikes about school, what motivates the child, and what has worked well in the past. Share your hopes and fears for your child so instruction can be fine-tuned for maximum effectiveness. You build a stronger relationship with the teacher when you take a moment to share your feelings about your child’s future.
Use the report card as a jumping-off point, but not as the center point of the conversation: Turn any review of grades into an learning opportunity to get the teacher’s more detailed observations about what’s working and what’s not for your child. Do not dwell on the grade itself and do not pressure a teacher to change a grade (if you believe a real issue exists, please bring this to Mrs. Bass or myself). Grades are not always the final reflection of a child’s overall abilities.
Inquire about progress in areas beyond academics: It’s important we raise loving, respectful, productive citizens in our learning community everyday! They will, in fact, be the decision-makers of the future. Ask about friends, socialization at recess, group work times, specials, lunch, and other times throughout the day. How each child functions with others, in teams, and in small group settings is going to make a huge difference later in life!
Ask what you can do: Be receptive to advice on how best to support your child without micromanaging or rescuing him/her from mistakes and valuable lessons learned. This HARD to do as a parent; I know! :-)
Trust your child’s development: Relax a little and have faith in your child and your child’s journey through school.
Leave your own school baggage at home, please: We all have memories and experiences of teachers and classes where we were not happy. Please set those aside and approach your child’s teacher as a peer and learning partner. Always assume the teacher WANTS your child to succeed in school and in life—just as you do!
I say it over and over, but it’s so true: The days of raising a child are long, but the years are far too short. The work you do today with your child’s teacher (especially during a conference) will finds its way back to your child in the long run. EnJOY your conference time! :-)