Most teachers try to meet with all parents to discuss their children's progress at least once or twice a year. It's important to make time for these meetings whether your child is a stellar student or struggles a bit with school. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can help you make the most of your conference time so you can work together with your child's teacher to give them the best support and opportunities to succeed.
Many parents work, and it's often not at a 9 to 5 job. Scheduling parent-teacher conferences can be difficult if you find it hard to make time between work and your other responsibilities to your children and home. Most teachers are willing to accommodate parents who have scheduling concerns, such as only being able to attend conferences in the evenings or only being available on a certain day during the week. Talk to your child's teacher to see how conferences are scheduled and what you can do to find a time that works for you because the most important thing about conferences is simply that you attend them. Many schools have conference time signups on the school's website or through another online service, such as email or Google forms.
Talking to Your Child
Before you start preparing for the conference yourself, talk to your child about school if he or she is old enough to have a discussion about it with you. Ask about favorite subjects, areas that are more of a struggle, and any social or emotional issues your child is facing. Don't come to your child with an accusatory or threatening attitude. Just tell him or her that you're having a normal meeting with their teacher and that you want to make sure you can support them with anything they need or feel during the meeting. If your child resists talking about school at all, don't press too hard; just approach the subject another day while you continue to prepare on your end.
Preparing Discussion Topics
Write down a list of questions and specific topics you want to discuss, such as your child's reading progress or issues your child might be having with another student. Make sure to talk about what you do at home to reinforce academic learning and support your child's schooling. Talk about how homework is handled in your home and ask your child's teacher what you can do at home to help him or her succeed. If you were able to discuss your child's likes, dislikes, successes, and struggles prior to the conference, ask the teacher if he or she agrees with your child's self-assessment.
Approaching Your Child's Teacher
Parent-teacher relationships can be strenuous at times, especially if a child is struggling academically or socially. Try to enter the conference with a positive attitude and make it clear that you want to work with your child's teacher as a team to help in any way possible, rather than entering the conversation with an aggressive or accusatory attitude, even if you have a good reason to be upset. It's best if neither party starts the conversation in defensive mode. Make sure to take notes on what the teacher says and arrange a follow-up time to meet, talk on the phone or email if there are ongoing things that you want to monitor for progress. Make a game plan before you leave on exactly what you will do at home and what the teacher will do in the classroom and talk to your child about the plan to try to get his or her cooperation.
If you know your child is struggling or there's a pressing issue that is making school emotionally difficult, don't wait until it's time to schedule parent-teacher conferences to talk about it. Reach out to your child's teacher and see if you can arrange a private meeting outside of conference time, or at least have a phone conversation or email. Most teachers are grateful for parents who take an active interest and want to work with the school to help their children succeed.
Contact a company that specializes in parent-teacher conference scheduling for more information and assistance.