Maybe you’ve been through this before, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, you get a limited amount of time to find out what’s going on with your child’s academic and social life during the school day. How do you make the most of it?
Sherri Wilson, senior manager of family and community engagement for the National PTA, gives some tips for parents.
Wilson said that in order for conferences to be effective, they must be a two-way communication between parent and teacher. In order for that to happen, parents should go in with a plan.
“Parents should go to a conference prepared with a list of questions to ask their child’s teacher,” Wilson said. “They also should ask to see samples of their child’s work as well as ask for activities they can do at home with their child to support their learning.”
In some cases, parents receive their child’s first progress report or report card at the conference. Wilson said parents should take an active role in their child’s education from the very beginning of the school year. She listed several things parents can do to keep their finger on the pulse.
- Ask the right questions.
- Communicate with the teacher often.
- Look in your child’s backpack for both homework and messages from school.
- If your child’s school has a portal for parents or some other way to keep track of your child’s data, check it often to track progress or identify potential issues.
- When possible, participate at the school.
Talk to Your Child
It’s also important to talk to your child about anything going on at school, academic or otherwise. Let them know that the purpose of the conference is to help them.
“Parents should find out which subjects their child likes best as well as least, and why,” Wilson said. “Parents also should ask their child if there is anything he/she would like them to talk about with their teacher.”
There’s a Problem … Now What?
Let’s say your child is struggling with reading comprehension or there’s a behavioral issue. You’ve identified the problem, but how do you go about taking care of it?
“When a problem arises, parents should ask for examples as well as ask what is being done about the problem and what strategies seem to help at school,” Wilson said. “Parents and teachers also should work together to develop an action plan that includes steps that parents can take at home and steps teachers will take when the problem comes up at school.”
You should also schedule a follow-up with the teacher and discuss the best ways to keep in touch and check up on your child’s progress.
Do you have any tips or ideas for other parents? Share them in the comments.
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