Who wants to spend an evening waiting in a locker-littered hallway or jammed into a tiny desk? I don’t see many parents raising their hands!
Despite its associations with discomfort and even conflict, parent-teacher conferences are an opportunity for parents and teachers to strengthen the connection between school and home, promoting student success.
Whether your parent-teacher conference will be held virtually or in-person this fall, here are some key tips to keep in mind:
It’s no secret that parent-teacher conferences can be poorly attended, especially beyond elementary school. Even if your child gets good grades, conferences offer an insight into all aspects of the school experience, from academics to social behaviors. Utilize conferences as an opportunity to be involved in your child’s school community and help advance your child’s education.
Especially since the widespread adoption of virtual conferences during the pandemic, schools may offer flexible formats to make conference scheduling easier for everyone. Connect with your child’s school if you need to reschedule or request to attend via an alternate format.
2. Arrive prepared.
With grades and behavior often topping the list of discussion points, parent-teacher conferences can be stressful enough. Ease your mind by arriving prepared. If the teacher sends a meeting agenda before the conference, have this handy so that you can anticipate how your priorities fit into the teacher's plan, helping you make the most of your meeting time.
If you really want to do your homework, review the school handbook, the class syllabus, and/or any classroom policies that can help you better understand the expectations and experiences of your child before you set foot in their classroom.
3. Involve your student.
Although students are not always invited to parent-teacher conferences, this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be involved. This meeting is about them, after all! Before the conference, ask your child how they feel about school and if there is anything they need from their teacher.
Consider bringing your student to the conference, provided that the school allows it and that your student is able to participate in a conversation about successes and challenges. After the conference, debrief with your child. Reiterate or explain any action plans and remind them that you want them to succeed.
4. Focus on more than academics.
While parent-teacher conferences may center on academic performance, they are also an opportunity to discuss social and emotional aspects of the educational experience. Your child’s teacher(s) may be able to give you valuable insight into your child’s social skills, friendships, and general behavior at school.
5. Remember that you are on the same team.
Two-way communication is the key to any successful parent-teacher partnership. While parent-teacher conferences can trigger anxiety on both sides, an effective conference focuses on solutions, not only on problems.
Don’t hesitate to ask the teacher to explain or elaborate. Whether it's the name of an assessment, a unit concept, or a specific student behavior, ask the teacher for clarification when needed.
6. Ask for resources or an extra meeting, if needed.
Most parent-teacher conferences are tightly scheduled, meaning that it may not be possible to cover every topic on your list. Want to know more about test prep, reading strategies, or community resources? The teacher may have a recommendation or may be able to point you in a productive direction, even if time doesn’t allow for a deeper conversation on the topic. Ultimately, if you feel that an additional meeting would be beneficial, ask!
Effective parent-teacher conferences are a central component of a successful parent-teacher partnership. As you engage with your student’s educational journey during upcoming parent-teacher conferences, remember that iLearn Academy is here to support you! To learn more, email us at email@example.com, call us at (847) 834-0791, or fill out our online request form here.
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