At least twice a year, most school districts conduct parent teacher conferences. These meetings provide parents the opportunity to meet with teachers to discuss academic achievements and concerns as well as any social issues that may have arisen. Parents and teachers are really a team, working toward the goal of developing the student to his or her fullest potential. These biannual meetings may be the only chance for the “team” members to talk.
To make the most of the brief time frame during which parent teacher conferences take place, parents can prepare themselves ahead of time by knowing what to ask. “It’s important that parents invest the time to be properly prepared before the meeting so that they can get the most from it” suggest Sam Miller of Parenting Teenagers Academy. The following questions can be asked during the teacher conference to generate useful insight from parents and teachers alike regarding the student.
Child’s Performance in School
To begin a discussion of a student’s academic progress, parents can ask the teacher: “In your opinion, is my child performing at his or her personal best or could he or she be doing more in this particular subject area?“
It is easy to get preoccupied with the letter grade that appears on the report card. Ultimately, the goal should be to check to see if the student is appropriately meeting the education challenges of the given subject area as best as he or she can. Parents should be satisfied with a “B-” if the teacher provides evidence that the child is meeting the challenges of the subject area at his or her personal best.
If it appears the child is struggling, parents can ask for ideas to use at home to enhance comprehension. Of course, if a particular course of study comes easy to the student it is worthwhile to inquire as to how to encourage an even greater understanding of the subject matter. Teachers are usually willing to provide ideas for further reading and exploration of the content if the child has earned an “A” but has done so without much effort.
Quality of Child’s Classwork
Effort in the classroom is not always easy to interpret at home. To find out how well a student is applying his or her abilities, the following question provides a great starting point for a discussion of a student’s efforts: “Is the quality of my child’s work consistent?“
Today’s youth are overwhelmed with options when it comes to extracurricular activities. Parents should make sure that these activities are not interfering with the quality of classroom work or the effort he or she is putting into the work. If the teacher notes a lack of consistency, concerned parents should do some research to find out the cause. Often times students need help prioritizing commitments. If sport practices, social outings or an after school job are causing academic inconsistencies perhaps some intervention may be required.
Let Teachers Share Concerns
The teacher may have concerns as well. If the teacher does not address any concerns, parents can check to be sure none exist by asking: “Are there any concerns that should be brought to our attention?“
Once a child’s academic effort and performance have been discussed, it is important to leave time for the teacher to talk. This is the time he or she will likely address any social concerns and share classroom observations. There may be special concerns that the teacher would like to bring to the attention of the parents and it is at this point during the parent teacher conference that they will do so.
Using these three questions as a framework for the next parent teacher conference will help both parents and teachers to maximize the limited amount of time that is scheduled for these valuable meetings.