Parent-teacher conferences are an opportunity to establish better communication between parents and teachers. Since children are different at home and in school, parent-teacher conferences enable both the parent and the teacher to gain a better understanding of the child, enabling them to be more effective in helping him or her. A teacher, for example, may be very surprised to learn that what she thought was a humorous way of dealing with a child actually makes the child feel belittled. A parent may learn that the teacher feels the child is not giving school his best effort. During a parent-teacher conference, a teacher may learn that the child is distracted because the family is going through a difficult time. Many parents are also pleasantly surprised during parent-teacher conferences to hear how much better behaved their child is in school than at home.
Before the conference
Preparing for the conference can make the experience more rewarding. Ask your child if he has concerns or anything that he would like you to communicate to his teacher. Depending on the child's age, discuss whether or not family problems should be mentioned. If you are concerned about your child's work, keep copies of material that illustrate your concerns. If only one parent of a two-parent household can attend the conference, it is helpful to take notes or bring a tape recorder to share the findings with the absent partner. In order to gain information about your child's behavior and progress, you might prepare some questions. Here are some possible examples:
· Does he share and take turns?
· Does he focus during large-group activities? Small-group activities?
· Is he self-directed in choosing activities during free time or does he need your help?
· What are his favorite activities?
· Is he willing to take risks?
· Is he able to settle conflicts verbally?
· Does he prefer working alone or with other children?
· Is he a leader or follower or combination?