Conference time can be an anxious time of the year. Especially if your child has been
struggling in a certain area. As a parent I have had both positive and negative conferences. The positive conferences were usually the ones where they told me everything that was going well and asked if I had any questions.
The negative conferences dealt with some pretty tough topics like my child not handing in her homework or not being able to focus on her work like the other students. It is really easy for me to hear good things about my child, but it can be difficult to listen to areas that she needs to work on. Especially when the list is big. So, here are some tips to make sure you leave the conference feeling good about the information that was shared.
1. Don't become defensive. This conference is about your child and not about you.
(I have noticed that once I start becoming defensive that is really hard to hear what the teacher is saying.)
2. Be open to suggestions that the teacher offers. For example, a teacher may discuss the need for a reading tutor. This is because they are aware that more time than is offered in school is needed in order for your child to be successful.
3. Ask for the areas that your child is doing well in. Most teachers will find something positive to report about your child, but not all of them will. Be prepared to ask them if much of the feedback is negative.
4. Remember that this teacher has most likely worked an entire day with students and is meeting with you when it is usually their time to relax a little. They may not come off as chippy as you would like, but they have your child's best interest at heart.
5. Ask what you can do to support your child at home. Are there some resources that you should be using or additional activities that you should be doing?
6. If you don't understand something, always ask questions. Teachers hear questions all day long and the only way they can help you is if you ask them yours.
7. Try to include your child in the conference. This conference is all about them. Whether the information is positive or negative, they should be taking an active role in his/her education.
8. Don't try to compare your child to the other kids in the class. Your child is unique with special talents and may do well or not as well as the other kids. The most important thing is that your child is working at his/her level.
9. Be consistent with what you plan on doing after the conference. It is really easy to start off strong and then allow our hectic lifestyles to take over.
10. Thank the teacher for the work that they do with your child. You would be amazed at how rare it is for a parent to be grateful for the work that a teacher does with their child. They are doing amazing things for our children and deserve a huge pat on the back.
Hope this helps as you are preparing for your next set of parent teacher conferences. The more you engage in the conversation the more you will learn what you can do to support your child.