Preparation is the key to a successful conference. Before you attend
the conference, spend time thinking about what you want to say or
questions to ask, so you can make the most of the time. Be sure your
child knows you are having a conference. Ask him what he thinks you
and the teacher should discuss. Following are some points to keep in
Make a list of things you want to tell your son's
teacher. These may include your son's favorite subjects, any
difficulties he might be having in school, special needs or
sensitive issues (weight, shyness, etc.) or his after-school
activities. You can also help his teacher by sharing information
like, "Patrick remembers things better if he hears them than if he
just reads them."
Write down any questions you may want to ask your son's
teacher. You might ask about grades, homework, attitude and
behavior in the classroom, strengths, weaknesses, or test scores.
Perhaps your son didn't start his science fair project until the
night before it was due. Ask the teacher to give you an outline of
what will be covered during the rest of the grading period so you
have plenty of advance warning for long-term projects. Don't just
ask, "How's Patrick doing?" Try to make your questions as specific
as possible. For example:
Does my son read at
the level you would expect for his grade?
Is my son working up
to his ability in math?
Does my son get along
well with the other students in the class?
[to top of second column]
Start the conference on a positive note. Both you and your
son's teacher want to do what's best for him. Use the lists you've
prepared of things you (and your son) want to tell the teacher and
questions you want to ask. Don't forget to ask to see your son's
work. There's no better way to see how your child is progressing
than to look at his school work.
Ask for suggestions. If your son is doing well, ask what
you can do to keep things on a positive track. If there are
problems, ask for suggestions of things you can do at home. Clarify
and summarize as you go. Teachers sometimes use educational buzz
words. If you don't understand something the teacher says, just ask.
Talk over the results of the conference with your son.
Share the good things the teacher said. Discuss any ideas for
improvement. Plan to follow up with the teacher.
For more information about helping
children learn or to submit your own question, go to
http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive
a prompt answer by e-mail.
Copyright 2006, The Parent Institute
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.