Teacher conferences can be stressful for everyone involved. Kids are often nervous for obvious reasons and parents are constantly worrying about their kids. In addition, teachers sometimes have to share and discuss information that may upset parents. There is often a feeling of uneasiness when it is time for conferences.
Though they can be a tad nerve wracking, they are also extremely important to your child’s success in school. They can also be integral to a child’s success at home. You may think that you know what is happening at school but sitting, face to face, with their teacher is the only way to get truly informed.
Speaking with your child’s teacher is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of your child. In order to help your next conference go smoothly, here a few rules of thumb to consider:
1. There should be no “sides.”
At a conference, you should be prepared to hear things that you may not like. You may find out that your child is cutting up, being unkind to other children or falling behind in a subject area. Please, remain calm and collected and never (NEVER) get angry with the teacher. Ask yourself, this simple question, “Why would they lie?” Try and remember that your child’s teacher is a part of a team of people who is working to shape your child’s personality and develop their mind.
They are NOT the enemy. If you treat their teacher as the opposition, your child will too.
2. Come prepared with questions.
This is really, really useful. Before you meet with the teacher, jot down questions, comments, and concerns that you would like to discuss. If your spouse or the child’s other parent is not able to attend, then be sure to write down their questions, as well. You may think that you do not need to do this and that you will remember but you can easily become sidetracked, overwhelmed or diverted and completely forget what you were hoping to talk about. Write it down!
3. Talk to your child in advance.
Be sure to talk to your child prior to the meeting. Ask them if they have anything that they would like to share with you and give them a chance to share their own concerns, feelings and questions regarding their education. This is also an opportunity for them to “come clean” if need be.
4. Talk to your child afterward.
Speak with your son or daughter as frankly as possible about the conference. Tell them what you heard and ask for their opinions or feedback. Share with them what you would like to change, keep the same or evaluate moving forward with the school year. Allow them the opportunity to share their ideas and help to formulate a plan.
Having a conference with “the teacher” can feel scary at times. This is especially true if your child is falling behind in an area, has behavior issues or deals with problems socially. However, these talks must be had. Your child’s teacher likely spends more waking hours each day with him or her than any other adult.
They are an invaluable resource to you and the more that you talk with them, the more informed you will be. Though that information may not always be what you want to hear, it will be very advantageous to you to pay attention to what they have to say.