I often joke that we have been parents FOREVER…not really, but it often seems that way. It seems totally impossible that we have a child out of college and still have one in elementary school and one in middle school. This time of year, that becomes more than apparent as we schedule and plan for our fall conferences.
Sometimes, with Elementary students, it’s hard to know what things to discuss with the teacher, especially if everything seems to be going “just fine”. These seven tips can help your conference go smoothly and be productive.
- Take your own notes. As you near the time of your conferences, write down and questions or concerns that you have for your child’s teacher. The time in conferences can be limited, so you will want to be organized with your thoughts. If you have specific examples of work or assignments you do not understand, put them in a folder with your notes so that you can easily access them to use as examples.
- Ask your child’s opinion. Sometimes, our kids don’t tell us everything. They may not mention things that happen at school because they are worried, or they simply forget between the school and home. Sit down and talk to your child to find out if there is anything you need to know. Not sure how to have that conversation? This FREE printable can help you open up those lines of communication.
3.Be on time. This seems obvious, but it is amazing how many parents show up late, or just on time, for their parent-teacher conference. Conferences are scheduled in a tight configuration so that as many parents can meet with the teacher as possible. When you are late, your conference is either cut short or you will make other parents run late. This is not appreciated by other parents, or your child’s teacher.
4.Leave emotions out of it. Listen… I get it. Sometimes, we are emotional or upset when it comes to our children. Try to remain calm and business-like during your conference. When you get emotional, it is HARD to listen to what the other person has to say. Look at your teacher as part of a team of people, including you, who want to do what’s best for your child. If things are going wrong, try to calmly talk them out.
5.Use the Chain of Command. If you are struggling with your child’s teacher and need help, now is a great time to reach out and get it. Ask that the Principal or Counselor sit in on your session if you feel that things are going badly and you are going to need an intervention from others to help things go smoothly. That’s what they are there for, so reach out!
6.Take Notes. During the conference, write down any items that the teacher has pointed out that you may need to pay attention to for your child. These items are great to look back at later and begin implementing. If there are specific learning goals that your child is struggling with, ask for additional resources that you can do at home to help make the task easier.
7.Have a sense of humor. Kids do silly things…and say silly things…and that is totally normal. Sometimes, being able to laugh about something is the best response. If something happens that highlights your child’s imaginative nature, be ready to laugh it off. Part of the joy of kids in the Elementary years is the lovely unpredictability of their minds!