Parent conferences may sometimes feel like a hassle, but they are extremely important to your child’s academic success. The connection between home and school greatly impacts your child’s perspective on learning. Parents who take an active role in their child’s education gain greater insight into the child’s personality and talents, absorb tips on how to reinforce skills at home, and form better relationships with their child and their child’s teachers.
Use the following questions as a guide during parent conferences.
- How is my child’s behavior?
Inquire about your child’s ability to follow directions and obey rules. Does your child respect teachers, administrators, and peers? Does he or she take care of school property? Your child’s behavior profoundly affects his or her learning.
- What are my child’s strengths?
Find out what your child is good at. Understanding your child’s strong points will help you provide positive feedback. Use your child’s strengths to help him or her get through homework or other difficult tasks.
- What can my child do better?
Discuss areas to work on at home in order to assure your child continues performing on grade level.
- What is your relationship like with my child?
How does your child interact with the teacher? Strong student-teacher relationships lead to greater achievement. Is your child courteous? Does your child feel comfortable asking for help?
- What can I do at home to support my child’s education?
What skills are being covered in class? Learn exercises to support these lessons at home. The teacher may help you create a chart to keep track of homework and other accomplishments or give you tips about sleep and healthy eating.
- What are your discipline techniques?
Use similar strategies at home to give your child familiar routines. If your child is on a behavior plan, consistency is especially important. Your child should feel that you and the teacher have the same expectations.
- Do you need any help?
Teachers are so busy they rarely think to ask for help. But they can always use it! Some appreciate when parents volunteer to assist during an activity or offer to make photocopies. Others prefer to send home tasks such as tallying book orders or stapling class projects.
- What supplies do you need?
Teachers are incredibly grateful for extra supplies, especially supplies that aren’t part of a school’s standard order (e.g. interesting paper, fabrics, buttons, plastic bags, etc.). Donating supplies will help you build a good relationship with the teacher. They often need things you’ll be glad to get rid of, like egg cartons, plastic bottles, or twist ties.
- Who does my child work well with?
Finding out which students your child gets along with will help you plan play dates and know who to call about assignments.
- What tests should we expect?
Some tests guage how well your child has absorbed skills from a particular unit in class. Some are univeral grade level tests that evaluate your child’s ability to meet district learning benchmarks. Others, such as the MCAS, are state standardized tests. Know which exams matter most. Preparation for MCAS is especially important. Your child may need practice with multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, or essay writing.
Whatever you do, don’t skip the conference! If you have a conflict, reschedule or ask for a phone conference.