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Helping your child succeed | Have a productive parent-teacher conference

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Whether your child is in elementary, middle or secondary school, parent-teacher conferences will provide a great opportunity for parents to come together with teach-ers, and discuss the educational performance and progress of their children.

Since it is essential that parents make the most of the brief amount time they have at the conference, below are some suggestions to help you get prepared:

Before the conference

1. Talk to your children and ask them if there is anything that they would like you to discuss with their teachers. If your children are in middle or high school, you may want to include them in the conference.

2. Before you go to the meeting, make a list of everything that you want to talk about at the conference and prioritize it. Also, write down any questions you would like to ask.

3. If you have a scheduled conference time, make sure to arrive promptly or a few minutes early. Conference times are scheduled from 10 to 20 minutes per child, and if you are late there may not be enough time for you to discuss everything you would like.

During the conference

4. Start off on the right foot, and begin by making a positive comment about the teacher or classroom.

5. Stay on track by avoiding lengthy discussions about topics that are not related to the purpose of the conference.

6. Listen to what the teacher has to say, and be open-minded to his or her suggestions even if the teacher says something with which you disagree. Then, you can add your own thoughts.

7. Parent-teacher conferences are a good time to discuss any academic or behavioral difficulties your child might be having in school. When problems do arise, parents must remember to stay calm and keep their emotions under control. Then schedule a follow-up conference to develop an action plan to address the problem.

8. Set up a way to check on your child’s progress. Will you make contact daily, weekly or monthly? Will you communicate by notes, telephone, email or during additional meetings?

9. If your child needs help with a behavioral or academic issue, you and the teacher should schedule a follow-up conference. Then the two of you can work on specific plans to help your child do better.

10. End the conference by reviewing what you discussed and restating your action plan.

After the conference

Whether or not your child attended the conference with you, sit down with him to discuss what had transpired. Discuss the positive aspects of the conference first, such as his strengths and achievements. Then, discuss the areas that need improvement, and the plans you and his teacher have developed, and start the action plan immediately. To see if the action plan is working, watch your child’s behavior and check your child’s class work and homework.

Stay in regular contact with the teacher to discuss the progress your child is making. Meeting with your child’s teachers helps build the strong parent-teacher partnerships that are needed if you and your child’s teachers are to reach your common goal of helping your child get the best education possible.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed., MA, is a teacher with 29 years of professional experience. Write to her at successfullearner@yahoo.com with questions or comments.