Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

One of the best ways for both parents and teachers to help address the strengths and weakness of their children and students, respectively, is to attend and be prepared during the parent-teacher conferences. Parents often look forward to the feedback that teachers provide and expect that these teachers will be well-prepared when they arrive. However, what parents sometimes forget is that it’s just as important for parents to come prepared to the conference also. As this is one of the few chances to meet one-on-one with the teacher who spends a great deal of time educating your child, it’s important that you make the most of this conference. Whereas parents attend these conferences in the hopes of just learning more about their children and their respective tests and grades, both educators and teachers agree that’s it’s also a great forum for teachers and educators alike to learn and discuss developmental issues from parents. Together all parties involved can gain valuable insight about your child’s emotional, social and general well-being along with their academic performance thus helping them grow and flourish.

Here’s how to make the most of your parent-teacher conferences:

Before the Conference

  • As in most things in life, preparation is key. Therefore it’s best to set up a file system early in the year when tests, homework assignments and progress notes are involved. As each is received, file it accordingly so it’s easily accessible when it’s needed.
  • Regularly sit down with your child and discuss how he or she is doing in school whether it’s about academics, club activities, friends, peer pressure or even bullying. If you find something disturbing, don’t be afraid to delve more into it before the conference so that you’re ready to discuss it during the conference. One of the best resource, and a good place to start, is other parents so talk it over with people you’re comfortable with.

During the Conference

  • Timing is everything. Plan your schedule accordingly for the day so that you arrive a little early at the conference. That in turn will prevent you from being flustered and will give you enough time to discuss everything you may want too with your child’s teacher. It will also show the teacher that you are a concerned, respectful parent who believes in the importance of time.
  • Try to maintain a positive attitude. That sometimes is harder to do then say, but it’s a key thing that is important even when starting and discussing difficult issues at hand. One of the best ways to do this is by talking about one or two things your child has liked about their class or a topic your child was excited about when they came home. This in turn, will prevent the teacher from being on the defensive and will allow an easier transition into more difficult topics that you may need to discuss.
  • Keep in touch. Find out which mode, email, phone calls or notes, your child’s teacher prefers to use for correspondences so that you can keep in touch. It’s important that you emphasize to your child’s teacher that you want to be a partner in child’s education and are there in a supportive manner for both your child and the teacher.

After the Conference

  • Remember to follow up. If something was brought to your attention during the conference or you made a commitment or plan to enact something, then follow through. This can be anything from helping your child develop a schedule and get organized, an emotional or social problem that needs to be addressed, or getting outside assistance by enlisting the help of a tutor. The bottom line is that your child is worth the time and effort it will take you and his or her teacher will appreciate that you’ve followed up on your commitment to be supportive.
  • Inform and include your child. Many a time parents make decisions without taking their child’s input, but it’s imperative that you include your child in coming up with a solution to address any situation. Remember to tell your child of any positive things his or her teacher said about them before discussing any areas of concerns. Being honest and upfront with your child in turn will help them feel and understand that they have a sense of control over the situation, and that both you and the teacher want what’s best for them.