Parent-teacher conferences are a great time for parents to connect with their children’s schools. For many this is the first – and only – time they will step foot in the school all year. Of course, the meetings are often brief and rushed; they are not long enough to cover the first eight weeks of the school year. So, instead of expecting parent-teacher conferences to provide a full rundown on your child, I suggest using them to connect, connect, connect.
Here are my tips for what I’d consider a successful parent-teacher conference experience:
1. Match a face with a name. You should know your child’s teachers and the subjects they teach. It’s helpful to have a copy of your child’s schedule posted someplace visible at home. If you are tech savvy you can take a picture of it, and keep it in your cell phone.
2. First visit the teachers of the classes that challenge your child the most. If there are performance issues, you want to establish a relationship so you and the teacher can work together to help your child. You should tell the teachers you will be contacting them the next day to set up another meeting to discuss your child’s progress in greater detail.
3. Give your child’s teachers a contact sheet with your information on it. Come prepared with a few of these. Make sure there at least two phone numbers where you can be reached, an email address and your name/child’s name.
4. Get contact information from your child’s teachers and find out which periods of the day they are free so you know both how and when to contact them if necessary.
5. Prepare two or three short questions in advance for the teacher. This could be something as simple as their homework policy to asking if they need a volunteer parent during the week.
6. Don’t leave the school without meeting the Parent Coordinator. Make sure you get the contact information for the PC in your child’s school, and locate their office. If your school does not have a PC then ask for the guidance counselor. You want to have another contact in the school, other than the teachers, just in case.