Once your kids get back into the swing of the school schedule after the holidays, you'll be hearing from the teachers for conference time. What should you expect from this meeting and how can you prepare for it?
Get on board!
Tosin Williams, founder of The Learning Period, an in-home tutoring business, and classroom teacher of eight years, notes that the mid-year conference is important for teachers to get or keep parents on board with their goals for the students’ education.
“Parents should always come with questions, as well as the expectation that teachers will have formed a rapport with their child and have accurately assessed their needs,” says Williams.
“For example, my mid-year conferences have always included a brief summary of the students' accomplishments, as well as my plans to further their academic development.”
Watch for patterns
Jennifer Little, Ph.D., of Parents Teach Kids, who taught pre-K through 12th grade throughout her 40-year career in education, adds that since the teacher now knows your child and his patterns very well, any issues or problems are now obvious to the teacher.
Little also notes that the mid-year conference is “crucial for the rest of the school year, especially when the teacher talks about what is going on with the child and there is a pattern to what other teachers' comments from the past have been.”
Know beforehand if your child is struggling
Coming in to the mid-year conference, you should already have a feel for how your child is progressing through the school year. She adds, “Parents should be aware if the child is struggling in any way at school. Often teachers notice students have difficulties but don't necessarily know what is happening.”
What to do if your child is struggling in school >>
Prior to your mid-year conference with your child’s teacher, pay extra close attention to your child’s school-related behavior. Does she come home excited to get a jump-start on her homework or is she withdrawn and doesn’t want to talk about her day at school?
Signs that your child might be having serious problems >>
Check out the paperwork that is coming home in the backpacks for signs of effort or lack thereof on your child's part. Before the mid-year conference, your child should have already received his second report card. Compare it with the first one to see how your child has progressed or improved.
If you notice areas of decline, talk to your child about it and be prepared to ask the teacher what she thinks happened and how you can help your child get back on the right track.
Get past the glow
Even if your child receives a glowing review from his teacher, dig a little deeper to see if there is any additional information you can take away from the conference. If your child is truly excelling, ask about honor classes, programs or extracurricular activities that could help your child hone his skills.
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