Seriously, you ask? Why this topic? Well, our conferences are coming up and it made me think about what makes for a successful meeting with the teacher.

There are as many different styles of teaching as there are of parenting but generally you are not consulted on the teacher that your child gets.  You may have a perfect match and think your child’s teacher is like Miss Jean from Romper Room (but with more degrees) or you may have the great with kids/not-so-great-with parents teacher (hint: you do want this teacher – it is not about you). The teacher’s style might differ from your own. Whatever it is, as long as the teacher is competent and fair, your needs are not primary.  Remember, although you prefer your style, your child will benefit from learning how to deal with people with different styles.  Just a little prep for the working world.

Here are some tips to make the most of your ten minutes of conference time.

Tip #1:    Dress nicely. No, I do not mean pull out all the stops and your fanciest duds.  I do mean be respectful.  You are going to the teacher’s place of employment and discussing your child.  I wore a twin set and nice pants to my preschool-aged child’s first conference.  Let’s be clear, I had a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old.  I had not been out of t-shirts and sweats in, well, maybe 3 years and 8 months.  The teacher noticed the effort and we joked about it.  Great start to a terrific preschool.  Lose the workout gear and put on something decent.  It does matter.

Tip #2:  Be respectful in manner as well as dress. It is their job and all teachers do know that this is your child and you want only the best for them.  They do.  Listen to their concerns, if any, or simply bask in the praise.

Tip #3:  Be prepared with particular questions about the curriculum and your child’s progress. You may think that the curriculum is not rigorous enough. You may feel it is too challenging. Find out how to support your child in reaching their academic goals. If both you and your spouse attend, talk before to make sure you are on the same page.

Tip #4:  Be mindful of the time. Whether you have a list of questions and concerns or just get off topic, there are other people waiting. If your conference starts late, you may go a few minutes over if you haven’t covered everything but you can always follow-up by email, telephone or schedule a follow-up appointment.

Follow these tips and you will have a great conference and have the added goodwill of the teacher.

Oh, and turn off all electronic devices.

2 comments on “4 tips for a great Parent/Teacher conference”

  1. Sorry about wearing the ripped jeans at that 1st grade conference … no, seriously, this is a very professional and helpful column. xo.

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