The parent-teacher conference often provides your first opportunity to have 15 to 20 minutes of uninterrupted time alone with your child's teacher. It may seem brief, but that initial one-on-one meeting may set the stage for the rest of the year. Teachers and parents can use these moments to establish a rapport and develop a common goal that focuses on helping your child have the best school experience possible.
Building a Partnership
Parent-teacher conferences can help develop a successful partnership between parents and teachers, an important aspect of your child's academic and social achievement, advises the Educators at the University of Illinois. Teachers often introduce parents to their teaching style, discipline methods and classroom policies early in the year through parent orientation and written information. You can return the favor during a conference by using a few moments to describe your child's after school activities, family relationships or hobbies to help the teacher better understand what makes him tick. Expressing your commitment to your child's education, such as explaining the way you ensure he completes homework assignments, helps clarify your intention to continue as an active member of the team. Telling her how much you appreciate the notes she sends home, her organizational skills or positive attitude with her students lets the teacher know you value her work on the team as well.
A main ingredient of the parent-teacher conference is exchanging information with the teacher about your child's academic progress and social development. This can include everything from how well she does in math to how she spends her recess time. Writing down your questions about her school day and listing the things that concern you most will help save time and ensure you cover the important topics. Ask your child how she feels regarding school, what she likes or dislikes and what areas she finds difficult. This will help you prioritize the issues you want to address. Her teacher has likely prepared well in advance for the conference and may have questions as well, or provide insight into issues new to you, such as your child's shyness about reading aloud.
Developing a Plan
The final portion of a parent-teacher conference typically addresses the plan to help your child work through his school difficulties or find ways to ensure his continued success. The teacher may suggest an after-school tutoring program, additional homework or a specialized in-school program designed to help him cope with a learning disability. Advanced children might need extra projects to prevent boredom or more time to pursue artistic endeavors through an evening or weekend class. If your student needs help with behavioral or academic issues, clarify the specifics before agreeing on a plan of action, such as the evaluation process for diagnosing a learning disability.