Today we had parent teacher conferences for Princess and Monkey. Earlier this week, we also had parent teacher conferences for Doodle. Personally I love parent-teacher conferences. I have a great time catching up with people I’ve known for years obviously that might not be the case for all parents on their way to conferences. A lot of the parents I know that are bloggers are moms and dads to much younger kids. Since I started off with older kids and worked as an assistant for a few years, I go into Parent Teacher conferences excited to see the people I worked with.
For parents just starting off this whole school thing though, I want to share my six best tips to absolutely rock your parent teacher conferences.
I worked in the school system for a few years and my parents have been in it my entire life. Your child’s educators will take you more seriously if you are dressed appropriately than if you come in with pajama pants on, outfits that are for clubbing, or looking like you just walked out of the gym. Whether you agree with the current social norm for business casual or not, it’s important to present yourself in a way that you would for a business meeting. After all, that’s what it is-a meeting with the other contributors in your child’s wealth of education. Personally, I like to rock some jeans, a nice sweater, and a scarf. I always wear a scarf because these ladies have become large and in charge with nursing two babies!
Be prepared for short and sweet.
Unless you’re living in a different kind of system, all parent teacher conferences I’ve attended over the years are only 15-30 minutes long. If you started off wondering how different a regular meeting is to an IEP meeting-length and intensity is a big difference. Be precise and use your time wisely. Thee’s a very good chance that the teacher has another meeting coming in right after you!
Find the specialists!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to visit your child’s physical education, music, and art teachers! I don’t only say this because of my daddy is a physical education teacher; I share it with you because I believe whole heartedly it takes a team to help your child succeed in their education. The specialists your child sees through out the day can give you a unique insight into their behaviors based on time, activities and different situations as well. This can also show you a little bit more about who your child is becoming-do they love music? Or enjoy art? Maybe they have a real talentwhen it comes to kicking a ball or getting it into that little hoop thing.(My dad is a PE teacher…I am not.)
The specialists, at least in our area, have, to be present for the hours of the parent techer conferences but rarely have visitors at the same multitude the primary teachers do. So stop in, hear a bit about how your child behaves in each one of these classes, and maybe get to know another adult in the school!
Know the language.
It wasn’t until my husband came to our first parent teacher conference that I realized just how weird the discussions can sound to those outside the education system. Maybe it’s because our teachers have always known I grew up in this world, but I will never forget him questioning “Dibels” and “benchmarks”. Before heading out to the meeting, take a glance at your local rules and catch up on some of the language that is involved in the system! I am a huge advocate for being so aware of the laws and regulations of your state and area. You are your child’s biggest advocate. Being aware of what a school is in charge of is important.
If you aren’t satisfied, request another meeting!
I have been so blessed to have teachers who are super great and who are helpful. Monkey’s teacher even suggested requesting another meeting to get him some testing to see if he’s on the spectrum. However, it’s totally possible that you do not have a pleasant experience with your parent teacher conference or it doesn’t answer all the questions you have. As we proceed with getting testing and possibly services put in place, I do hope to put together a checklist of things to do once you feel the need to proceed with your request for testing and services for your child. But for now, I want to leave the simple instruction that there is no shame in asking for another meeting with your child’s teacher if you believe it is needed.
Ask what YOU can do as the parent.
This meeting is a two way street. While sitting there talking to your child’s teacher and asking how everything is going and what she’s doing to challenge your child, make sure you are also willing to hear what you could do to make your child as successful as you possibly can. Maybe you need to read with them, practice CVC words, work with patience in your daily life? Whatever it is, make sure you ask this teacher how you can help as much as possible!
Do you have any tips and tricks for making the best of your parent teacher conferences?