When your child enters an early childhood facility or a public school, they usually let you know through a calendar when parent teacher meetings will approximately take place during the year. You should receive a flyer inviting parents to attend the conference to discuss how your child is doing. Parents should not be concerned with this, it gives you a chance to sit down with your child’s teacher one on one and find out how your child is doing in school. This also gives you a chance to work with your child’s teacher to help him/her succeed.
Early Childhood Level
Usually, early childhood facilities will have progress reports that give the parents a chance to see samples of how the child is progressing. At least 2-3 times a year you should have the opportunity to see these. This also depends on the facility your child attends. The advantage when your child is young is that you will have many opportunities to speak with their teacher at pick up or drop off. This gives the parent a lot more face time with their child’s teacher to discuss delays, behavior issues or other concerns. Every child is unique and develops at their own pace and time, your child’s childcare can help you with resources, early intervention or referrals.
Elementary to High School Level
At this level either elementary, middle or high school, your child will take a bus or if you take them to school, chances of you seeing their teacher on a day-to-day basis are very slim. You will most likely get a letter or flyer sent home about parent teacher conferences. Some schools will leave voice messages on your cell phone or home phone informing you of the meetings or events coming up at their school. Some things to expect would be talking about your child’s grades. How they are doing in class? Is homework good or has it been an issue? Behavior will also be part of the conversation, it might be good or some behaviors may need to be addressed. Your child will be aware of this conference so you will want to include them in it. Not at the actually meeting unless the teacher request this, but instead ask your child how he/she likes or feels about school? Is there anything they would want you to discuss with their teacher? Before attending the meeting make a list of questions you would like to ask. Try to be on time for your meeting and try not to go over. There will most likely be many other parents waiting to discuss their child’s progress. After you have questions from your child, you will also want to add to this list.
- What are my child’s strongest and weakest subjects?
- Does my child hand in his/her homework?
- Do they participate in class?
Depending on where the child sits, maybe he/she has a hard time focusing in the back of the room, or may need glasses but didn’t tell anyone he/she can’t read the board. If your child receives special classes or resources, how are they progressing? Is additional help needed? Asking questions will help you and your child understand if extra help is required. You are your child’s first advocate.
Do Not Get Blindsided
As a parent you do not want the first parent teacher conference to be the first time you hear how poorly your child is doing. Staying in touch through PTA meetings, you do not have to attend all of them, but it is nice to know what is going on and also get to know some of the teachers to help build a rapport with them. If behavior is one of the problems your child is having, ask the school to give you examples of the behavior, what is being done to help with the issues at hand, what strategies is the school trying, and is there anything that can be done at home as well. If your child is having trouble with their studies and/or behavior, you and their teacher want to agree on the best solution together to resolve the problem. Working together will only benefit your child in the end. Make the most of your parent conference and do not leave with questions you forgot to ask.
Some key points to remember
· Talk to your children before the meeting.
· Be prepared with questions to ask.
· Arrive early, and do not go over your time allotted.
· Go to the conference with an open mind.
· Follow up with the teacher.
· Sit and talk to your child about the things discussed with his/her teacher.
· Be prepared to hear the good things your child is doing and improvements he/she may need.
Tracy Martin-Turgeon has been in the field of early childhood education for 22 years. She started with The Children's Workshop in September 1999 as an assistant director for and has since served as director, regional, and currently as a VP regional overseeing seven facilities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Tracy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Early Childhood education from the University of RI. In her role, Tracy enjoys most supporting and helping the staff, families, and children she works with every day. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and children.