In late October parents of elementary school students will receive a notice from the school to sign up for parent-teacher conferences. The conferences are only about 15 minutes long, but they provide a good way to connect with your child’s teacher and open the door for future communication. Here are some pointers for making the most of your time.
Talk to your child before hand:
Ask your child what they like or don’t like about school. Is there anything that is troubling them that they would like you to speak to the teacher about? Talk to others who might have concerns: Your spouse or a child care provider might have noticed some difficulty that you are unaware of. Consult with them before the conference.
Make a list:
Make a list of topics you would like to cover. Be sure to ask the teacher about any special services, like speech therapy, that your child is receiving
Arrive on Time:
If you are unable to keep your appointment call the school and let them know.
Focus on helping your child: Keep the conversation focused on finding ways to help your child succeed. Don’t be defensive if the teacher brings up a trouble spot. It is in your child’s interest to have as much information as you can get and to work in partnership with the teacher.
Make a plan:
Before you leave make a plan of action with the teacher. Decide what each of you will do to help your child succeed. If you feel you need more time to discuss your child’s situation, schedule another appointment with the teacher.
Talk to your child about what you discussed with their teacher and any plans that came out of the meeting. Keep communicating with the teacher so you can inform each other about what is working and what is not.
Parents who want to know how their child is progressing, are encouraged to attend the Open House night, which usually occurs in mid-October. Beyond that, parents of middle school students must request any additional parent-teacher interaction on an individual basis. Conferences, while usually short in length, are often still the best way to connect with your child’s teacher/s and open the door for future communication.
District-wide, all teachers have an email address and can be contacted by that method. Although most parent-teacher conferences at this age level happen at a scheduled time during the school day, if you have concerns or just want to touch base with the teachers, you should feel free to contact them directly via email, if you have access to the internet.
If you need to reach them at the school, via phone, please contact your child’s Guidance Counselor and they can help you to schedule a conference.
Parent involvement is still important in high school, but it is very different. The focus at this level revolves around keeping your child on track to graduate and helping them plan for the future. Here are some ways you can help your child succeed;
Attend Open House -- Each of the high schools holds an open house in October. Parents have the opportunity to meet each of their child’s teachers and speak privately for 5 minutes. Generally there are sessions in the afternoon and in the evening.