Parent Teacher Conferences Tips for Parents – I attended a Great Start Collaborative Oakland County Parent Coalition meeting that focused on effective parent and teacher communication. The meeting was mainly for preschool level, but the advice applied to other stages of education.
Having good communication skills goes a long way when partnering with teachers in the learning process. In order for communications to have the most successful outcomes, it is essential that parents learn how to get their intended message across effectively.
Robin Psenka was the speaker at the meeting. She is the Director of a childcare center (The Community House), and was joined by a panel of preschool teachers.
Here are some tips that Robin presented to the group…
Parent Teacher Conferences Tips for Parents
- When first starting a new school year and before you even get to a parent teacher conference, let teachers know of any issues with your child – e.g. attention issues, behavioral issues, etc. Don’t worry about your child being labeled… it will only help. It will hurt the child if you don’t share this information because there will be no understanding behind it. Then, use the conference time to get updates on progress.
- Inform teachers if you’ve set goals for your child. At conference time, you can set goals as a team with the teachers.
- Prepare your questions for parent teacher conferences beforehand. Write down your questions and bring them with you. Wait until the teacher goes through her notes first, and then refer to your notes to discuss any issues that were not already addressed. Ask specific questions… don’t say “How is my child doing?” This is too vague. Rephrase it “How well does my child know his multiplication tables?”
- Teachers will tell you positive things about your child, but it is also their job to inform you about concerns. Don’t get defensive. Listen carefully and ask a lot of questions. If you need more time to discuss the situation, ask to have another meeting scheduled. Do not go over the allotted time.
- After conferences, if there is a concern, do a follow-up. Check in with the teacher to see how things are going. Is there improvement?
- If you have a complaint, you have a right to voice it. But, put the complaint in context. Tell the teacher how happy you are overall about how much your child is learning before jumping into the constructive criticism.
- Work together on problems. Communicate with the teachers to find out how they operate so you can be consistent at home. If something at home is not working, ask the teacher how you might work on the issue in tandem.
- Give teachers praise when due… if a teacher has done something that has been well-received by your child, let her know. This will help build a strong working relationship.
- Always ask the teacher what you can work on at home with your child. And then, follow through with the teacher to see if it’s working.
- Some schools “dismiss” certain children’s parents from conferences if there are no issues. If you feel you still want to meet with the teacher, it is your right to make that request. Just ask politely if you could still arrange a meeting.
Other helpful communication tips that were shared that did not necessarily relate directly to parent teacher conferences tips include
More Parent Teacher Conferences Tips
- If you’re having a problem with a teacher, follow the chain of command. Go to teacher first. Teachers and parents should connect first and try to resolve the issue. Then, if not successful, meet with the program director if needed.
- If your child is getting an IEP and special services, once the IEP’s are complete and services are discontinued, future teachers may not know the situation even though there may be residual issues. Meet with teachers and give them the background even though the child is no longer getting services; this is helpful information for teachers to be understanding of the situation.
- Don’t try to communicate with teachers at drop off and pick up. Teachers are busy. Time it right… e.g. off hours, conferences, etc.
- Be a part of the classroom if it’s allowed. Be sure to ask the teachers if this is an option. Inside classroom participation may be as simple as just observing, or can be open for you to help with an activity. Being in the classroom will be helpful for you to get to know all the kids and their parents.
- If your child is going through something that might affect their behavior, inform the teacher so that she is aware of it, and she may also be able to cater to it. e.g. A child is getting ready to move and is not dealing with it very well; a teacher can do a lesson or activity that is based on this subject.
Great Start hosts valuable Parent Coalition Meetings and free Parenting Workshops throughout the year. See related posts below for more info on the valuable resources Great Start Collaborative of Oakland County provides.
Finally, if you are looking for a resource to help you find a high quality preschool center that will be a good fit for your family, refer to greatstartconnect.org. This site comes up with different child care centers in your area.
For more on Parent Teacher Conferences tips, visit www.greatstartoakland.org.