Most school systems offer Parent-Teacher conferences at the end of the first quarter of school. This is a time to discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses and to set goals for your child for the next quarter. Conferences usually last 15 or 20 minutes and believe me, they go very quickly. Go into your conference prepared to listen, talk about and ask any questions about your child. Please do not take valuable conference time talking about how this child is like, or not like other children at home. Concentrate on just this child. Also listen with an open mind. Your child’s teacher sees how your child behaves and learns with several other children (think at least 25 others!) and what you may hear may not be what you see at home where there are only a few other children, or perhaps, no other children. I have made a list of some questions that you could ask at your upcoming conference. Be an active listener, an active participant and you will have the best kind of conference. One that helps you to see where your child is developmentally and to learn how you can help him/her to progress to the next levels of achievement.
Great Questions to ask at Your Parent Teacher Conference
- Is my child developing as he should for his age?
2. What can we do at home to reinforce skills learned at school?
- What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
- How can we develop our child’s weak areas?
- Does my child participate in group activities?
- What is he like in class?
- Is he/she taking an active interest in learning?
- How does my child interact with the other children?
- Is my child on track for mastering the skills needed to complete Kindergarten, or First Grade?
Children are more likely to succeed in school if they know that their parents and teachers are working together cooperatively
I have been mentioning that we will be conducting parent teacher conferences soon. Many of my children are the oldest child or only child in their family, making this, the first conference of first grade, an anxious time for the many parents. What is causing most of the anxiety is the worry about grades. Our school grades first graders using the following scale.
O = Outstanding = 90 – 100 %
G = Good = 80 – 89 %
S = Satisfactory = 70 – 79%
N= Needs Improvement = Below 70%
I can tell you that parents do not want any N’s or S’s on their child’s report card. Why not parents? This is valuable information. It will help you to understand not only your child’s strengths in school but his/her weak areas that need work as well. I feel badly for these young children. I would not want to be in a new job (for the children their job is first grade) and after 7 short weeks be in an evaluation cycle by a new supervisor. We don’t stress out adults by assessing their work when they are new on the job, but we do it to children! Hmmm, something is wrong here. Your children have worked hard to adjust to a new grade, new teacher, new friends, new curriculum, new schedule, for some a new school, etc. and it is OK if they receive some N’s or S’s on their report card. I will be the first to tell you that this report card from first grade does not go with your child to Middle School, High School, and it definitely won’t be asked for in your child’s college application. You think I am joking. I am not. Parents worry about these grades and all I want to say is don’t worry. Just take the grades for what they are…information about this moment in your child’s life and how he/she is doing at school. If you are not happy about your child’s grades, discuss with the teacher how you, the parent, can help the teacher and how you will work together to make your child stronger in his/her weak skill areas. Sometimes it is just developmental and the grades will change as your child becomes more mature and understands more of the academic and social world around him/her.
Parent Teacher conferences are coming soon and first grade parents will want lots of information. It always amazes me at the amount of first grade parents who want to know where their child stands in the ranking of the class. Well, first grade teachers do not rank their classes…ever! The developmental levels of the children fluctuate on a daily basis, and the child who has a handle on writing on Monday, might be behind all of the other children on Friday. That is just how it is. Besides, do you parents really want to hear that your child is the lowest achieving child in the class today? What if your child is the highest achieving child in the class today – tomorrow will bring about different information. Parents, please do not ask where your child falls in the ranking of his/her class. You will leave the parent teacher conference disappointed because we don’t have that answer. Instead, ask about your child’s strengths and weaknesses…yes, he/she does have weaknesses. Find out what you can do at home to strengthen those weaknesses so that your child will continue to mature and develop at an appropriate pace in order to be academically and socially successful and don’t bother asking about class rankings until senior year in high school when rankings do count and a high achiever could be the class valedictorian. Until then, let your 6 year old be a 6 year old and lighten up on the pressures that you are putting on your child.
Parent Teacher Conferences are coming soon to my school. They will be here at the end of the first 8 weeks of school. 8 weeks! I don’t know too many adults who would like to have an evaluation with their new boss after 8 short weeks yet we do it to small children when their parents and teachers come together to discuss them. I would prefer to have the conference mid-year, as I will have so much more information to discuss but this is when our school system requires the conference. Many of the teachers at my school send out a questionnaire for parents to fill out prior to the conference so that we know what issues the parents have on their minds and we can gauge our conference time accordingly. Many times the teachers get so busy talking about Reading Test Scores, class behavior, goals for the second quarter, etc. that we run out of time to answer any questions that the parents might have. The questionnaire helps us to prepare.
Here are the questions that our parents answer:
- How does your child feel about school?
- What subject does your child enjoy the most?
- What are your feelings about your child’s homework?
- What kind of homework assistance do you give?
- What schoolwork, if any, has your child expressed concerns about?
- What concerns, if any, do you have about your child’s interaction with teachers and or other students?
- In what ways, can I help your child?
- What other questions would you like to have answered at our conference?
This questionnaire lets my parents know that I want to hear their concerns and am willing to work with them in order for their children to have the most successful year possible. You might see if your child’s school has anything similar and if they don’t you could contact the teacher PRIOR to the scheduled conference and give him/her some topics that you would like to discuss at the conference.
I also have previously written a blog about Kindergarten parent teacher conferences:
Teachers request parent teacher conferences for many reasons. It could be anything from academic concerns, to your child’s behavior, or your child’s ability to make new friends. One thing for certain is that if a teacher calls for a conference, he/she feels strongly that there is just cause for the meeting. I tell parents that I don’t like to deliver surprises during our required parent teacher conference in November, so I often will meet with parents before this conference to discuss concerns that cannot wait. As a parent you should go to any and all parent teacher conferences. Listen to what is being said at the conference and then together with the teacher discuss goals for the child that involves both school and home. Then make a commitment to being an active participant in your child’s education. Your child’s teacher cannot do it all alone. He/she needs your support to help make this a successful year as possible.