Dr. Carolyn Chambers Clark, Award-Winning Author and Wellness Nurse Practitioner

Preparing for a Parent-Teacher Conference

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What do parents and teachers bring to a parent-teacher conference?


As parent, you have unique insights about your child’s needs, aspirations, interests, and aptitudes. Your child’s teacher has expertise in content areas, curriculum planning, classroom organization and student motivation.


What is the challenge of parent-teacher conferences?


The challenge of parent-teacher conferences is to find the best way you and your child’s teacher can communicate and implement learning experiences that will help develop your child’s gifts and talents.


How to prepare for a parent-teacher conference


Before you arrive at a parent-teacher conference...


*Be familiar with school policies. Call in advance and find out what they are.


*While you’re at it, ask about state and local guidelines for gifted programs and gifted children.


*Jot down a few notes about your child’s needs, aspirations, interests and aptitudes. You might even want to ask your child what they think is missing in their school experience and what they’re most interested in.


*Obtain agreement from your spouse, partner, or a relative, friend, or another adult who shares responsibility for the child to go to the meeting with you; discuss strategy together prior to the meeting.


How to get the most out of a parent-teacher conference


Here are some tips for making the most of your next parent-teacher conference...


*Always arrive on time


*Enter confidently and shake hands with the teacher, giving your name and your child's


*Arrange to sit in an "adult" chair at eye level with the teacher.


*Listen actively. Make eye contact and try to understand the teacher’s point of view. Think about what it would be like to have a whole classroom of kids to deal with.


*Be calm, diplomatic, and tactful. With your body language show that you are interested in what the teacher has to say.


*If you feel you are leaving conferences with only surface information such as test scores and attendance records, ask some questions that will delve deeper into the child's school life. For example..


- Does our child seem happy in school?


-What have you noticed are our child’s special interests and strengths?


-How does our child interact with others (age-level peers, older children, younger children, adults)?  


-Is our child perceived as a "know-it-all" and made fun of, or sought out by others?


-Does the academic work seem to challenge our child, or is it done with little effort?


-Are there any ways you can help our child learn? 


- What ways can you alter assignments to accommodate our child’s abilities and interests?


- Does our child participate in special gifted/talented experiences or regular classroom work?


- Does our child show you feelings about trying new things or making mistakes?


- Are there opportunities for critical and creative thinking and for problem solving?   How does our child respond?


- In what ways does our child show the ability to work independently, accept leadership roles, assume responsibility, and exhibit intellectual curiosity?


- What can we do to help develop our child’s talents?


- Are there appropriate after-school or summer enrichment opportunities available for our child?


Don’t be ashamed to write these questions down on a card and refer to them. If you feel embarrassed, just say you have a lot of questions and you don’t want to forget any of them so you’ve jotted them down. You will look like a concerned and well-organized parent, and that’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Think positive and you'll be positive!

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