In addition to Open House and Back-to-School Night, all DoDEA schools encourage parents to meet with their child's teacher for parent-teacher conferences. If your child is attending a Non-DoD school you can also find information about parent-teacher conferences, Open House and Back-to-School Night on the school's website or by talking to your child's teacher.
Parent-Teacher conferences allow parents the opportunity to ask questions about their child's classes or progress in school. Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to discuss how parents and teachers can work together to help students perform at their best in school.
The following tips will help parents before, during and after their conference with their child's teacher.
Before the Conference
Schedule an Appointment
If you are going to a meeting that was scheduled by the teacher or school, ask before hand how much time you will have. If you will need more time or want to meet with the teacher again let the teacher know at the beginning of the meeting.
Talk to Your Child
Find out what your child thinks are their best and least favorite subjects and be sure to find out why they feel this way. Also, ask if there is anything your child would like you to ask the teacher.
Let your child know that the meeting between you and the teacher is to help them in school, that way they don't worry about the meeting. If your child is in middle or high school you may want to think about including them in the conference.
Create a List
Write down a list of questions, issues or concerns that you have for the teacher.
Some additional things to keep in mind to discuss with the teacher:
- Questions about progress
- How you, the teacher, and the school can work together to help your child
- Questions about the school's programs or policies
- Your child's home life, personality, concerns, habits and hobbies, and other things you feel the teacher should know about that might help in working with your child (e.g. transitioning to a new school, parent deployed, part-time jobs, a sick relative, religious holidays, music lessons, etc.).
Remember the Objective
Parents and teachers have common goals. They both want children to succeed and progress at a rate where they can take control of their own learning. While students learn in the classroom, that learning is reinforced at home with the parent.
Remember that teachers, just like you, want your child to succeed. This will help you put a better perspective on what the teacher says about your child.
The Day of the Conference
On the day of the conference you may only have 15-30 minutes to meet with your child's teacher so it's a good idea to ask your most important questions first, just in case you don't have enough time to address everything.
Here are just a few things that you may want to consider asking when you meet with your child's teacher:
About Your Child
- Is my child doing as well as he/she should be?
- Is he/she working to the best of his/her ability?
- What can I do to help my child with subjects he/she finds difficult?
- How can I help him/her study? Prepare for class? Improve his/her work?
- Is my child in different classes or groups for different subjects? Which ones? How are the groups determined?
- Does he/she participate in class discussions and activities?
- How well does my child get along with others?
- Have you noticed changes in the way my child acts? (e.g. Squinting, tiredness, or moodiness that might be a sign of a physical or other problems?)
- How are things going in class this year? Are there discipline problems? What have you done about them?
- If I sense my child is struggling, what should I do?
- If I think my child is gifted what should I do?
- How can I track my child's progress
What the Teacher Might Ask
- Be prepared to answer questions that might be asked by the teacher about your child's hobbies and interests. Does your child have special health problems? Provisions for study at home?
- Teachers might ask you for an example of a good experience or problem area your child has had in school. Before you meet with the teacher, ask your child if they have questions or concerns.
Classroom Instruction and Assessment
- How do you measure my child's progress? Homework assignments? Tests? Portfolios? Class participation? Projects?
- What kinds of tests do you give? What do the tests show about my child's progress? How does my child handle taking tests? What is your grading policy?
- Are there certain procedures that you follow in your classroom? What are your standards?
- What is the homework policy? How often do you assign homework? What types of homework assignments can I expect to see?
- What textbooks are you using?
- What is your teaching philosophy or style?
- How can I reinforce what my child is learning at school at home?
- How can we work together to help my child?
Things you Might Want to Ask About
- You can also ask to see some of your child's classwork. The teacher should have samples on hand.
- If there is something that you don't understand, ask the teacher to clarify or further explain what he or she means.
- It is often easy to get upset during a meeting especially if your child is having problems with school. Instead focus the conversation on what can be done for your son or daughter. Ask the teacher to work with you on finding a solution that will work for you, your child and the teacher.
After the Conference: Follow Up!
Create an Action Plan
- After the conference begin putting the action plan that you and the teacher discussed in place.
- Including your child in the action plan is important. Be sure your child knows that both you and the teacher care about how he/she is doing in school.
- Stay in touch with the teacher (either through email or a phone call) to discuss your child's progress.
- Don't forget to express your appreciation to your child and the teacher as you start to see progress.
By working together with your child's teacher you can make this year a great school year.
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