It’s parent-teacher conference season in Idaho, and Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr has some tips for parents and other adult caregivers on how to make the most of these important meetings.
Before the conference, sit down with your child to review recent papers, tests, and grades. Talk about any concerns your child has. Write down their questions, and any that you want to add. “The more questions you have, the more successful your conference will be,” Cyr says.
During the conference, “you’re there because you want what’s best for your child and so does your child’s teacher,” Cyr notes. Talk together about your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Tell the teacher how your child learns best and what he or she likes to do at home. By knowing more about a child’s learning style and home life, it will help the teacher help the child do his or her best at school.
Also during the conference, as time permits, you might work with the teacher to develop a plan to improve your child’s success at school. Include steps to be taken and goals to be met, and agree to communicate again about your child’s progress toward those goals.
In the higher grade levels, teachers may have very limited time to meet with each parent at the official conferences – and parents need adequate time to make the rounds to all of their child’s classes, too. Stay focused and respect other parents’ time. You can always send a follow-up note asking additional questions or offering feedback to the teacher, if necessary.
After the conference, sit down with your child to review what the teacher said and answer your child’s questions about the conversation. By talking before and after the conference, parents and children can feel a sense of teamwork and shared goals. Be sure to celebrate the strengths and successes that the teacher noted as well as any areas for improvement.
Cyr adds: “Remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher, and working together with the classroom teachers will help your child be as successful as possible in school.”