That time of year is coming, believe it or not. Parent-Teacher conferences can seem super stressful for both parents and kids everywhere. Guess what? They don’t have to be. As a teacher mom, I have some suggestions designed to help you maximize your limited time and get the information during parent-teacher meetings.
Bring the grades
Many teachers today have online grade books or use platforms like Blackboard and Power School. Be sure to take a look at your child’s grades before you head over to conferences, so there aren’t any surprises. It’s even helpful to print them out and highlight any grades that you may wish to discuss. Parents can feel frustrated when they arrive at conferences and the teacher doesn’t immediately know the details of a single grade off the top of her head. This is simply because of the sheer number of students with multiple grades. Bringing in specific grades can help the teacher to address concerns when the information is right in front of them. It’s all about efficiency during this crazy time.
Bring your kid
Although I don’t recommend this for the littles, it’s very helpful to bring the older kids to the conferences. Over the years, some of the most productive conversations happened when both parent and child were there. It’s a great way to get everyone on the same page and to reassure your child that both parent and teacher are on the same page. It also avoids a bit of the he said/she said dynamic when it comes to things like missed assignments and low grades. When everyone is present, the misunderstandings can be eliminated.
Make an appointment
If you get the sense that your conversation is going to need a bit more time from the teacher, schedule an appointment for another day. Parent-teacher conferences can be super busy and teachers are typically on a very tight schedule with limited time. These conferences are designed for quick updates and check ins. They typically don’t lend themselves well to conversations that need to address major issues and concerns. If an in-person meetup doesn’t work well for you, most teachers would be happy to accommodate with a phone conference as well. Don’t rush important conversations like this!
Write down talking points:
Before you meet with the teacher, it’s always helpful to write down a list of questions and concerns as they come up throughout the semester. Bring the list with you so that you don’t get sidetracked by other conversations or new information. Most teachers offer parents the opportunity to begin the conversation with questions and concerns so that they can address those right away. After seeing multiple teachers, it can be easy to forget the reason you came, so a list can really help parents stay focused. If you have multiple kiddos in different grades, this can be a great way to keep the notes separate for each.
Parent-teacher conferences are really just the beginning of the year-long conversation with your child’s teacher. If the teacher offered some recommendations or strategies for your child, it is really important to follow up. It’s helpful to connect and find out if there have been any notable changes at home or at school. It is also imperative to let your child’s teacher know if anything has changed with your child. Information provided to the guidance office or principal is not automatically distributed to the teacher.
Parent-teacher conferences can seem stressful and rushed, but with a little prep work, they can be wonderful snapshots into your child’s world at school. It has been my experience that teachers and parents can be an awesome partnership. It can be magical when they use these little touch base meetings as ways to support and nurture the children in their lives.