Parent-teacher conferences can bring on many different emotions. Anxiety, excitement, fear, nervousness, anticipation – just to name a few. For most parents, it’s a combination. Especially if it’s your very first one because you’re not sure what to expect.
As parents, we like to think we know everything about our children. But the reality is our children’s teachers spend 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year with our kids!! As crazy as that sounds, it’s such a blessing! We get an extra pair of eyes from someone who gets to see our kids interact in an educational, behavioral and social environment – something we don’t get to do as often.
Parent-teacher conferences give us a chance to understand what teachers see daily. It’s so important to take the conference seriously and soak up all the information you can. These only come once (maybe twice) a year so you want to make sure you get the most out of it. I vividly remember preparing for my first parent-teacher conference. So many thoughts were going through my head, but when it came time to talk… I froze. I forgot all my questions and found myself sitting in that tiny chair, nodding in agreement with everything the teacher said, and silently wondering if she was judging me. I remember leaving the conference unsatisfied because I knew I could have done more.
Since then, I have learned how to properly prepare for parent-teacher conferences (even though you can never fully prepare your body to sit in those miniature seats for 20 minutes – talk about UNCOMFORTABLE). Instead of viewing the conference as an opportunity for the teacher to judge me as a parent, I now view it as a partnership. After all, you and the teacher have your child’s best interest at heart and want them to succeed. The teachers want you to be involved and this is the perfect opportunity to understand how your child is doing in school and how the teacher values education.
Here is a list of 5 important questions I recommend asking during your parent-teacher conference.
How does my child interact with his/her peers?
School is not just about grades and homework, just like work is not just about deadlines and paychecks. If we’re spending 7-8 hours somewhere, most likely we are also building relationships and interacting with others. It’s critical to know how your child is doing socially. During school, the teacher is able to observe your child’s interaction with his/her classmates. Is your child a bully? Is he/she being bullied? Are they socially awkward? Do they get jealous easy? Quick to get angry? Are they friendly with everyone? I have found out so much helpful information by asking this question.
What are my child’s strengths & weaknesses in each subject?
Even though it’s amazing hearing about what your child is excelling in, it’s also equally important to know what areas they are struggling in. I can admit, listening to someone tell you what your child is not good at can be a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s important to know so that you can focus on how to help them make improvements. I also find it useful knowing strengths and weaknesses when I’m explaining to my daughter what we need to work on. That way I can also add something she’s doing well in so that it doesn’t seem like I’m only focused on the problem area. For example, “Your teacher said you’re awesome at writing, but we just need to work on your reading a little bit so you can be great at both!” Rather than saying, “Your teacher said we need to work on your reading.” See what I mean?
What more can I do at home?
This question usually follows the one above. The teacher is not the only one responsible for making sure your child succeeds in school. Remember, it’s a partnership! I like to know the ways I can make sure her strengths stay strengths and her weaknesses become strengths. A lot of the times I’ve found the teachers have great recommendations. From books to websites, and fun activities we can do as a family!
What is the best way for us to keep in touch?
Knowing the best way to get in contact with the teacher is so important. Is it email, phone call, text message, or a written note in your child’s folder? The communication doesn’t have to stop once the parent-teacher conference is over.
Are there any questions you’d like to ask me?
Teachers have questions too but sometimes don’t feel comfortable asking because they don’t want to seem nosey. It’s important to ask if they have any questions because there may be certain changes in your child’s behavior that they have noticed or maybe your child has said something that needs to be brought to your attention. For example, the teacher may ask you why your son/daughter has been falling asleep in class? This could let you know that they need an earlier bedtime. Or maybe the teacher will ask you why he/she was absent last week and it’ll remind you that you forgot to send in a sick note.
What questions do you like to ask during parent-teacher conferences? Please leave them in the comments! I love hearing what works for other parents.
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