I often hear from parents that they’ve stopped going to conferences when their children enter middle school. Recently a parent told me, “In elementary school I felt I had to go, but once my child had more than one teacher I didn’t see the point. The last time I went I sat in the gymnasium waiting in line to just get 5 minutes with the teacher. I didn’t learn anything and it was not worth my time.”
I could sense the parent’s frustration. The conference experience was a mixture of disappointment and guilt in not being able to effectively communicate with the teachers.
What has been your experience? Parent teacher conferences are coming up. Are you going?
Many school districts are working to enrich parent-teacher conference by asking the student to participate or run the conference. This type of conference can be very rewarding. It allows the parent to meet the teacher and witness how the child interacts with the teacher(s). Critical thinking and speaking skills are developed in this context. If your school conducts conference like this, it WILL be worth your time to go.
But what if your child’s school doesn’t plan an interactive type of conference? To enrich any conference experience I would ask your child to self-reflect on his school experience before the conference takes place. Here are some questions to ask you child to answer:
- What did I do well this quarter?
- What did I not do well this quarter/ what do I need to improve on?
- What is my goal for next quarter (grade and actions)?
Your child will typically have short answers. It’s up to the parent to get more specific. Continue to ask, “Why?” or “How?” until you get a repeatable action to help plan for future success. For example:
PARENT: What could you have improved on this quarter?
PARENT: Why do you think you didn’t do as well as you could?
CHILD: I did not study enough.
PARENT: What needs to be changed?
CHILD: Study more.
PARENT: What does that mean? How will you study more?
CHILD: I think I should study for more than one day and go in for help before the test.
Now that is a repeatable action that the child can write as a goal to work on next quarter. It is this type of information that you can bring with you to the conference to have something specific to discuss with teachers. Better yet, have your child come with you and share this with their teacher in front of you.
As parents it is important to be involved and support our children. Encouraging your child to participate in their parent/teacher conference is a great way to show your support in their education and help them to develop better self-awareness, accountability and communication skills.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
By Megan Stone, M.Ed.
Wife to Rick
Mom of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.
Author of Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (And Life)
Contact Megan for one-on-one academic coaching or a parent seminar.
Check out Megan’s book,
Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in (And Life)