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A guide about the most important items to focus on during parent-teacher conferences
Parent-teacher conferences are an important part of education. In most school districts, the first parent-teacher conferences are scheduled between October and November. Parent-teacher conferences allow teachers and parents to discuss a student’s educational strengths and needs.
Most teachers prepare for this meeting by collecting student work samples and assessment results to share during the conference. A conference provides parents an overview of how their child is doing in class, academic expectations, and long-term goals.
As a parent, this is the perfect time to share and address any special needs or concerns that may impact your child’s academic environment. Some information to discuss in parent-teacher conferences may include your child’s medical needs or specific accommodations that you may be necessary.
Medical needs may include ensuring that he/she wears their eyeglasses during reading time or the need to sit up front to avoid distractions. This may also include behavior concerns that have happened in the past that may deem necessary to share or discuss. Accommodations can also be addressed during this time to ensure that the classroom teacher is accommodating to your child’s needs.
Before parent-teacher conferences, enough testing and classwork are available for teachers to have an idea of where your child stands. Student assessment sometimes begins in the first week of school. To determine student academic abilities students are assessed in different areas. Some assessments determine growth targets that are assigned based on the student’s assessment results. Ask how your child scored in those assessments and what his/her growth target is.
Discuss Strengths During Conference
Part of the teacher and parent discussion should focus on your child’s strengths. Strength is an important area to discuss because we can use strength to address areas of needs. Inquire about your child’s reading, writing, and mathematical strengths to compare what you see are his/her academic strengths at home. Other non-academic strengths may include a student’s ability to stay on task, positiveness, persistence, and favorite activities.
Once you’ve discussed areas of strengths you’ll most likely move on to areas of needs. Academic needs can range from a wide variety of necessary skills to successfully complete school tasks. Take notes about the academic needs your child may have and ask how you can support from home to help address an area of need.
Parents can support most academic needs from home. Ask the teacher what exactly you can do from home to help your child in the areas of needs. If your child is struggling in adding or subtracting, ask the teacher how you can practice at home to help him/her improve their math.
Once needs are discussed you’ll want to hear about what the school is doing to support areas of needs. Response to Intervention (RtI) is one-way schools are attempting to address student’s academic needs. In a RtI system, students are grouped by areas of need to receive small group instruction on a regular basis. For instance, if your child struggles with letter identification, he/she receives small group instruction in letter identification.
Ask your child’s teacher to share how your child is receiving additional support. Parent-teacher conferences should allow for you to inquire about these educational needs.
Help from Home
The belief that parents are the first teachers at home is not just a saying is a fact. Inquire about how you can help from home and how to best monitor what’s happening in school. Some schools offer online account access to educational resources that students can do from home. This may be applications or websites that help in reading, writing, or math. Obtain your child’s access and login information during the conference.
Inquire about homework policy and testing policy. For upper-grade level, ask if grades are posted online for you to monitor progress in class. Obtain account access to Schoology or a home access account if necessary. Some teachers post grades more often when they know parents are checking and interested in their child’s progress.
The discussion of parent-teacher conferences allows teachers and parents to connect and work together to support a child’s education. Encourage your child to do their best and keep communications open with the classroom teachers to intervene as necessary.
Share with us what’s an important question to ask during a parent-teacher conference?