I cannot believe it is that time of the year already! Parent-Teacher Conferences are just around the corner. It seems like it was yesterday when I was running around trying to set up my classroom and getting ready to start the new school year. But, time flies. It is already November and before we know it, a new calendar year is upon us.
Parent-Teacher Conferences are a great opportunity to check on your child’s progress and mastery of academic standards. With Common Core implementation already rolling in many schools, it is always helpful to be proactive and know what the new changes/expectations in curriculum are. For example, with the new standards, there is a major emphasis on reading informational text (not just narrative), writing opinion pieces, and supporting both reading and writing with textual evidence. When it comes to math, children are now spending more time on major concepts; therefore, giving children the opportunity for more practice and understanding.
So, do you know what specific questions to ask during this precious time? Conferences do not last more than 20 minutes. Actually on average parents and teachers meet for about 15 minutes.
Below I have compiled a few tips to help you navigate this time with ease and more importantly – success:
- Have a discussion with you child prior to attending the conference. Ask him/her about his/her academic progress. What are the areas he/she feels successful? What areas have room for improvement? As a parent, you want to make sure you walk into the conference informed of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Educators WANT parents to be involved. If you have an honest understanding of where your child stands, it will be a much more productive conversation
- Draft a list of questions you want to ask. If you have them written down, chances are that you will ask them.
- Ask about your child’s reading level and what that means
- Is his/her reading at grade level?
- What about your child’s fluency and expression?
- Homework. How long should it take to complete?
- Mathematics. How is your child performing? (Fact fluency, number sense, geometry, problem solving, etc.)
- How is your child’s writing? Is he/she writing fluently?
- What genres is he/she most successful and what genres should he/she spend more time practicing?
- Leave the conference with a plan of action. Discussing progress is great, but what next? Make sure you discuss a plan of action with your child’s teacher. What do you and him/her commit to do and how is progress going to be determined? If your child needs help mastering multiplication tables (for example), what are you going to do at home to help?
- Request to see work samples. Your child’s teacher will most likely have plenty of samples for you to see. But, what does an exemplary paper look like? What should your child be aiming at? I am not saying this for you to compare your child to others, but to rather see where he/she should be
- Assume always the best intentions. This applies to every aspect of our lives. Assume positive intent and keep in mind that teachers wan the best for your child
- Give your child feedback about the conference. Children want to hear how they are doing. Do not forget to share the major points of your conference with your child
The truth is that I could draft an infinite list, but ‘keeping it short and sweet’ is always a plus. Remember that you and your child’s teacher are a team – together you can work great things.
Photo by U.S. Army Corp.