5 Steps to a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference
Updated: Jul 11, 2019
Stepping foot in your child's classroom can turn any parent into a nail-biting 8-year-old again. With back-to-school jitters over for most parents and kids, parents are anticipating parent-teacher conferences. Hopeful of positive reports, even the most prepared parents usually go in with some feeling of trepidation. However, when a child is struggling or not meeting certain standards, a parent's dread can quickly turn into panic. Emotions can get in the way as these conferences are a crystal ball into your child's educational path. It's important to learn as much as you can to help your child make the grade.
Follow these steps to help your child thrive after a parent-teacher conference:
1. Don't personalize
Every child has their own unique sets of strengths and weaknesses. The unexpected news regarding an area of need can lead to denial that a problem even exists. Some parents can even resort to dismissing the news as “he’ll grow out of it” or "I did that when I was her age and I turned out okay." So, it’s important not to take news of your child’s struggles personally, but with an openness to look for solutions. It's also important not to dismiss them. Teachers share concerns to help a child develop.
2. Be prepared
The feedback at a parent-teacher conference can lay the foundation of your child’s developing needs in categories like social, emotional, motor, and academic development. Ask questions in each of these critical domains. Ask the teacher how your child is getting along on the playground or how their reading is coming along. Ask the teacher if you can see a writing sample or how they manage when things don't go their way.
3. Take notes
The information shared serves a purpose. And that is to help your child reach their potential. So, come prepared to take notes. The feedback given can help change the path of your child’s school experience - as long as you do something with the information.
4. Follow through with recommendations
A good starting point for any parents who hears that their child is struggling is to ask the teacher for resources. A parent can also ask for suggestions they can do at home that has helped other students with similar struggles in the past.
5. Set up a Follow-up
It’s okay to follow-up after the meeting, since hearing news about your child can be difficult to take in and think clearly. Reach out either via e-mail or set up another meeting to discuss options to help your child. A follow-up meeting may also be an opportunity to also bring in school counselors or psychologists who may be able to share more information about your child's needs. Set up another conference in a few months to review the progress and make alterations to the plan.
The most important thing a parent can do is follow-up. Then, keep communicating with the teacher. Never assume that your child is improving because you are doing your part - check to make sure that everyone else is. What a parent does after a parent-teacher conference can make all the difference in the world for the future trajectory of their child. The support from a professional like an educational therapist can make that positive impact.