Most schools offer parent teacher conferences in the fall, and it’s a fantastic way to get a glimpse into the expectations that will drive your child’s grades. You might feel like you heard everything you needed to know at Back to School night, but I encourage you to attend the fall parent teacher conference for a personalized, one-on-one chat about your child.
Since your child has multiple teachers in middle and high school, it’s probably not feasible to meet with all of them, so choose two or three that you most want to touch base with and make a point to see them at the conferences. If the official conference organization doesn’t allow for this, make private appointments to meet them another time that’s convenient, before or after school.
Before you go, take the time to check out your child’s grades online and talk to them about how they think things are going. Then, head in armed with a few questions you’d like to have answered. Here are some important ones you should ask, if they aren’t covered in the session.
What factors are used to arrive at the grade? Most classes are a combination of tests, homework and classroom participation. Find out how that is calculated, where your child stands in relation to each and where improvements could be made.
How can I help support my child at home? Your teacher will probably give you information on what you can find on their blog or website regarding daily assignments and deadlines, and then often will give you clues about how involved they expect parents to be. Some might say that parental assistance in quizzing can give your child an edge; others might make it clear that students learn all the tools they need in class and should be doing their homework independently.
What skills will you be focusing on this year? Having an overview of what your child will be studying can be a fascinating peek into their world and let you know what to expect in terms of rigor. Some teachers might emphasize individual knowledge and others might mention the importance of working collaboratively in groups or honing presentation skills.
How is my child’s behavior in class? It’s good to know if your child is the class clown or a busy bee. This might open the door for you to talk about the seating rubric and whether your child might do better away from their besties. Their response also will let you know how much class participation is expected – and how your child measures up. Typically this question will open up avenues for you to have further conversations with your child about their class behavior, which can lead to insights into social dynamics and other areas where your child might be struggling.
How can my child get individual help if they need it? Most teachers are available before or after school and welcome your child scheduling time to visit with them. They also will let you know what’s available on their blog, and might suggest online resources. Finally, some encourage students to seek out additional tutoring help.
The parent teacher conference is one of the best ways to really find out how your child is doing in school – both socially and academically. Whether your child is acing his classes or struggling, the feedback offers a springboard to talking with your child about what they are doing great, and where they could improve. Keeping the dialogue open, both with the teacher and your child, is the best way to ensure school success.