Hi everyone! Today was a half-day for my first, fourth, and twelfth graders. Students in our district arrived home early so that parents could attend Parent-Teacher Conferences in their absence. Conspiratorially, I know a few teachers that loathe this set-up, preferring that students are either off an entire day or that parent-teacher conferences occur after school as it messes teacher schedules up and brings some of the chaos it is supposed to eliminate. I can see their point.
As a mom of six–three of whom are currently school aged–I’m no stranger to the chaos of family life. Today was a bit more chaotic than usual and it definitely caused me to draw upon some of the insights that I’ve gained in this conference adventure as you prepare for your own Parent-Teacher conference season.. If you stick around for a while, I’ll be glad to share some of those with you.
- Give yourself grace. I don’t care how many of these conferences I have attended and how much faith I have in my littles to adhere to the lessons and home training they have received at home, parent-teacher conferences can cause me a bit of concern. Is my child grasping concepts? Have I followed up enough to help them achieve the best they can at home? Am I properly supplementing what they are learning at home? It’s so easy to question or own abilities and decisions when it comes to our kids. Put all of that aside when you walk through the doors of the classroom and open your mind and ears to be receptive to what is being said.
- It isn’t you against them. It’s so easy to go into the classroom with the subconscious thought of going to war for your baby. I assure you, most of the time, that isn’t necessary. All of the information that you instructor is sharing–from scholastic achievement to deficiencies in progress is meant to help you and your child, not hinder. It isn’t accusatory. It is to keep you informed about the things you need to know as parents/caregivers in relation to your child. Take the information that has been provided and use it as building blocks to help your child achieve better. Take it to recognize the great achievements that he or she has achieved.
- Remember to come with your questions. When I was in college, I was taught to prepare for job interviews with questions of my own for the interviewer. I was told to generate questions that showed I’d done research in the position and had a genuine interest in showing where I could contribute in the company. These Parent-Teacher conferences are similar. Prior to conference day, our district sends out interim progress reports. We are then given the option to sign up for conferences unless there is a specific request. The reports give you an idea of where your child is excelling and where they may be having difficulty. Use that information.
One of my littles has been having trouble in math. I get it. I am not a fan of Math –not at all. I have been consistently speaking about it with her teacher. Her teacher has given me options that may be of great help. Still, when I went into today’s meeting, I asked a few questions.
- How is my child progressing in [subject]?
- How is my child progressing in comparison to his or her peer group?
- Are there any areas where my child needs extra support or attention beyond what we have already discussed?
- Are there any behavioral or social concerns of which I should be aware?
- How is my child’s listening and participation skills in class?
- Are there any supplemental tools that you recommend we use to help my child succeed in your class or improve?
People excel at different things at different times. This isn’t a competition. But it is a race. The only victor is your child. The only result that matters is getting them across the finish line in as safe and nurturing a way as possible.
- Remember it isn’t a competition. One of the things my husband and I make it a point to do is to discuss a teacher’s conversation about our child outside of the presence of the other children. Our first, fourth, and twelfth grader won’t hear statements about how good or not so good their siblings are doing. Kids are going to be kids. There’s no need for the math phenom to ridicule the child who is struggling in math. Not that we would ever allow that, but we know that it can happen.
We have had to remind ourselves and our children that people excel at different things at different times. This isn’t a competition. But it is a race. The only victor is your child. The only result that matters is getting them across the finish line in as safe and nurturing a way as possible.
Overall, today’s conferences were all great and I was glad to be able to talk with the kids’ teachers about what I could do to support them and to support my children. I know that there will be another opportunity for conferences prior to the transitions to the next grade. I’m looking forward to seeing the growth that develops now until then.
Have a great night guys!