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Preparing for the Parent-Teacher Conferences

Long before you ever meet, you and your child's teacher have a mutual goal - the success of your child. Parent/teacher conferences are an integral part of your communication with the school. Conferencing not only provides the opportunity to share a wealth of information about your child, it also helps to create a partnership with the teacher that will assist your child through their most formative years.

The parent/teacher conference can be a little intimidating and you may feel a great deal of apprehension, especially if this is your first time or you are meeting a new teacher. Calgary teacher, Jim Baxter explains "as adults we may not even be aware of the fact that we bring our past experiences with us to the parent-teacher interview process, but we do.

One would hazard a guess that some of the parents who do not show up for these school-scheduled events are still harboring feelings based in their own schooling memories. That is so unfortunate because this is such a wonderful opportunity to make that all-important personal connection. Perhaps we should call these "team meetings" to reflect the feeling that we are all on the same side with the focus on student learning."

The most important step before your conference is to talk to your child. Do they have any concerns or questions? Is there anything that may be bothering them at school that they don't feel comfortable asking for help with? What is their favorite class, least favorite, etc? The more information you can share with your child's teacher (i.e. social, medical or family concerns) the better. Make sure you are prepared to make the most of your time with the teacher. Joan Craven, educator and author of Help, School Starts In September, offers these suggestions for a successful parent/teacher conference.

  • Is my child meeting your expectations?
  • How does my child get along with the other children?
  • What is my child's self-esteem like?
  • Is my child continually having difficulties? If so, what specialists have been consulted?
  • Who are his friends?
  • Does my child complete the assignments?
  • Are the assignments completed to the best of my child's ability?
  • Is my child co-operative in class?
  • Does my child volunteer answers?
  • Does my child work well in a group setting-does she contribute in a positive way?
  • Does my child come to class prepared to work?
  • Does my child come for extra help? And is extra help available?
  • What can I do to help?

At the end of your conference, review with the teacher what has been said. Include any plans that will require a follow-up either by note, phone call or another appointment. Remember that any concerns that arise need to be kept in perspective. Let your child know they have their teacher's support. But most of all, let your child know you believe in them.  

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