As a parent, I am always nervous about what to expect from parent teacher conferences. What questions should I ask?

by Amy Hilbrich Davis

in Ask Amy,Kids

Welcome Parents I love this question.  Our children, like many, have conferences this week so the timing couldn’t be better.

First off, understand that your feelings of nervousness and anxiety are normal. Many moms feel like they are on “review” as much, if not more, than their kids. Dig deep to not take your child’s conference personally, rather, try to view it as a wonderful opportunity to hear from the one person or group of people who have the privilege of spending the entire day with your child—soak it up and enjoy it!  Your child’s teachers are some of your most valuable resources.  Together, you are partners in raising a happy, healthy, and successful child.

Let’s begin with what to bring.  I have a spiral notebook that I bring into every conference.  I have seven kids, so I have seven notebooks.  Bring that notebook to every conference or school meeting that concerns your child throughout the year.  Write your child’s name, grade, and year on the front.  You may have 3 or 4 school years in one notebook, and when that one is full, store it and buy another.  It will become a treasured keepsake of your child’s growth over the years.  Next, before you go, write down any specific questions you have or bring along any examples of your child’s work that you want to discuss.  One quick reminder, do your best to arrive on time.  That can be tough, but being on time sends a message to the teacher that their time is valuable and you respect it. Now, for the two questions you should ask your child’s teachers: 

  1. What are my child’s strengths? 
  2. What are my child’s opportunities for growth and development? 

The minute you ask about your child’s strengths, a positive atmosphere is created.  It’s fun to talk about where your child excels and it is a wonderful way to begin your conference.  I love to watch my child’s teacher sing their praises.  I want to hear the positives: both intellectual strengths as well as social strengths, as both are equally important to me.  As the teacher shares where your child excels, write them down in your notebook.  Ask the teacher to repeat any you might have missed because later you will share that praise with your child.  It’s important for our kids to hear genuine praise, especially from the people who make a difference in their lives.  Your kids will love it and it will motivate them to continue with the positive behaviors.  It is so important to witness the power of affirmation and how valuable it is to build in your child a positive self image.

 

Now it’s time to learn where your child has room to grow.  This question is important because it establishes that your child is human.  We all have areas of opportunity for growth and it is normal and healthy to approach life eager to learn where we can improve.  As the teacher shares the areas, it is your job to empower your child with this information.  Once your child has clarity on what the areas are and where to focus, they will know exactly where to begin to direct their time and energy as they build these skills.  Utilize the conference time with the teacher to hear specific examples so together you can create an action plan for your child’s growth.  Suggest your plan to share this information with your child and request a follow up to review the steps of the plan to motivate progress.  It is important to set weekly check points to touch base to make sure your child is making progress.  It’s in this process of setting goals, working toward them and ultimately achieving them where your child learns their capabilities.  They take ownership of their progress and learn the importance of a strong work ethic, which helps their self-confidence grow along with a host of other virtues.  A productive parent teacher conference is the stimulus for empowering your child to learn, grow and develop.  You and your child’s teacher help fuel that process. Make it a great one!

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