October and November are parent-teacher conference months for most schools across Southern California. Some parents look forward to one-on-one time with teachers, while others dread it. Research proves that family involvement that is linked to learning leads to bigger success at school.
How to get the most out of parent-teacher conferences? A few quick reminders:
- Parents and teachers are on the same team.
- Listen respectfully, even if your child’s teacher offers surprises related to behavior or habits.
- Ask what you can do at home to solve any issues or trouble spots happening in the classroom.
- Tell your child’s teacher in about any drastic changes happening at home that might affect your child at school, such as pending divorce, sibling problems, health or sleep or eating issues.
- Watch your language. The word “but” can accidentally put someone on the defense.
- Commit to follow-up. Don’t let the parent-teacher conference be the only time you connect with your child’s teacher.
Oona Hanson, an educational consultant and private tutor who is co-founding Beacon School for Boys, suggests parents follow the teacher’s lead. “Even if you have specific ideas for things you want the teacher to try, always start that part of the conversation by asking, ‘What are your suggestions for ways to address XYZ. Imagine if a customer or client told you how you should do your job better.”
Nat Damon, author of the forthcoming book “Time to Teach: Time to Reach” says approaching a school administrator is not out of bounds if you walk away from the conference with deep-rooted concerns. “This is not to piggyback or leapfrog; rather, it’s to communicate the concern in hopes that the administrator will keep an eye out for the relationship between the teacher and your child. Also, know that conferences can always be followed up with another meeting later. Chances are the teacher would appreciate it, and chances are he or she will hope for a more positive meeting, trusting that the parents have communicated clear goals and takeaways to their child.”
Harvard Family Research Project offers a helpful tip sheet for parents and stresses the importance to be heard.
For additional information and resources about child education, L.A. Parent Magazine‘s education issue is available now and includes tips for applying to LAUSD magnet schools, extracurricular activities and learning tips for special needs students and navigating preschool and private school options available to parents.
Jill Simonian is a Parenting Lifestyle Contributor, appearing on CBS Los Angeles every Wednesday on News at 5pm and Friday mornings at 6:45am. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.