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Preparing for a parent-teacher conference

Long before you 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 your child’s 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.

A parent-teacher conference can be 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 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 harboring negative feelings based on their own schooling memories. This is unfortunate, because this is a wonderful opportunity to make that all-important personal connection. 

“Perhaps parent-teacher conferences should be called ‘team meetings’ to reflect the feeling that we are all on the same side with the focus on student learning,” says Jim.

The most important step before your conference is to talk to your child. Do they have any concerns or questions? Is there anything 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 question 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 my child’s friends?
  • Does my child complete all of their assignments?
  • Are the assignments completed to the best of my child’s ability?
  • Is my child cooperative in class?
  • Does my child volunteer answers?
  • Does my child work well in a group setting? Do they contribute in a positive way? 
  • Does my child come to class prepared to work?
  • Does my child come for extra help? Is extra help available?
  • What can I do to help?

At the end of your parent-teacher conference, review with the teacher what has been said. Include any plans that require a follow-up either by note, phone, 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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