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How to have a successful school conference

Courtesy of Patty Taylor and Andalusia City Schools counselors.

The new school year is well underway with the excitement of ballgames, pep rallies, homecoming, seeing friends again, and making all the memories that school can bring.

However, one activity that doesn’t always conjure up the fondest of memories is the dreaded Parent-Teacher Conference Day.

Although we know that parent-teacher communication and parental involvement are vital to the success of our children, many begrudgingly perform their duty of attending while our children fear what will be discussed.

To help take the dread out of Parent-Teacher Conference Day, here are some suggestions to follow.

First, you, the parent, know your child better than anyone else.

Although the teacher can give you insight into their daily education and school time behaviors, you, as the parent, are the expert on your child.

Life events such as illness, a divorce, or a new baby in the house can greatly impact your child’s day at school.

A great way to start a parent teacher conference is to ask: May I Tell You About My Child? or May I Tell You About What’s Going on at Home?

Share information that is vital about your child and would affect his/her school time performance or behavior.

The conference should then move on to more school-specific discussions.

Parents should expect to see work samples and recent assessments of their child.

Questions that you might want to ask include: In What Areas Does My Child Need Improvement?, Is My Child Performing on Grade Level?, or What Do These Assessment Results Really Mean?

Although it is important to ask how your child compares to grade-level expectations, try not to compare your child to other students, as each child is different.

Other important questions you might ask are: Is My Child Doing His/Her Best? and Does My Child Need Extra Help in Any Areas?

Remember that the parent and teacher are a team, both trying to make your child the best that he/she can be.

In some cases, a student may be having problems at school or even with a teacher.

If you’re worried about a situation at school, share it.

The worst thing you can do is ignore it and hope it gets better.

In addition, teachers usually appreciate when parents bring an issue to their attention, as long as it’s done with respect.

Some tactful ways to share your concern are by beginning with questions such as: Can You Fill Me in on This Situation? or Can You Tell Me About Your Teaching Method?

A seasoned teacher, who has worked with hundreds of children, will often have advice that may be the turning point in the troubling situation. Always remember, the teacher is there to help your child.

At the conclusion of the conference, parents want to remember to ask: How Can I Help? or How Can I Contact You? It’s good to know how and when is the best way to reach your child’s teacher, so ask does she/he prefer phone calls, email, or written notes.

Also, ask what ways you can help in his/her classroom.

Remember your child’s success is greatly impacted by how involved you are as a parent.

Parent-Teacher Conference Day for Andalusia City Schools is Mon., Oct. 12.

Teachers will be available to conference this day. To schedule a conference, parents should call the main office of the school his/her child attends.

So, make a list of questions and get ready to turn the dreaded Parent-Teacher Conference into the successful Parent-Teacher Conference.