Finally it’s parent-teacher conference time and you get that chance to sit down face-to-face with your child’s teacher. You have a lot that you want to talk about, and a limited amount of time. The better prepared you are going into the meeting, the more beneficial the meeting will be for both you and the teacher. Here are some questions you can think about and then ask your child’s teacher at the next upcoming conference to elicit information and make the rest of your child’s year more successful.
How is my child doing keeping up in class?
Start out by asking the teacher how your child is doing overall. Is he or she ahead, behind, or right on target indicated by grades compared with the average student at the national level? You might want to gain information about this level your child is at. Also ask the teacher if she or he feels that your child will remain at this level- and why.
What information and skills will my child be expected to accomplish by the end of the year?
All children, whether struggling, average, or gifted need to meet higher academic standards and expectations in school. Ask the teacher what your child will have mastered by the end of the school year in reading, math, science and social studies. If your child has already achieved those goals, ask the teacher if there are more challenging academic standards in place in this classroom. If the teacher answers “yes” then ask to please see these. If your child is struggling with the coursework then discuss with the teacher what specific remediation and support is your child receiving. Again ask to see the specific program and what is actually taking place to assist your child in progressing forward.
How are you assessing and monitoring my child’s progress?
Your child needs to be evaluated and monitored during the entire school year to determine progress, remediation needs and advancement of subject areas. During your conference ask your child’s teacher what kind of information he or she is using to evaluate your child and how often these assessments are conducted.
As a parent, what can I do at home to stay involved in my child’s academic progress?
Studies have shown that children who receive regular educational support and encouragement at home do better at school and tend to excel beyond the average.
All teachers welcome and encourage parental involvement, so now is the time to ask how you can help your child at home improve his or her areas of weakness and build on his or her strengths. Ask your child’s teacher to recommend some outside enrichment activities to support his or her learning aside from home and school.
Does my child have friends?
Academics are not the only subjects you will want to discuss with your child’s teacher. Find out how well your child interacts with others, participates in groups and shows value and respect to the teacher and classmates. Talk to the teacher about what you can do to reinforce these qualities, along with what academic lessons you can teach at home to help your child become a more well rounded person.
At the end of the meeting you will want to clarify and summarize all the points discussed during the conference. This way both you and the teacher are better able to develop a mutual understanding and agreement.
Karina Richland, M.A., E.T. is the Managing Director of Pride Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. A former teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District, Ms. Richland is a reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Pride Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com