Now that school is back in full swing, I’m making the rounds to the teachers, setting up parent-teacher conferences.  Now, our schools offer conferences at various times of the year, but I try to make an effort to make a “get acquainted” meeting before then.  To me, there is nothing more important in my child’s year than a good relationship between the parent and the teacher.  When communication is strong, the child finds a comfortable learning environment and will thrive.

I make my first conference relatively short – about 10 – 15 minutes is all I need.  During this time, I introduce myself to the teacher and give her a little background on my child – his learning style, habits at home, his interests.  Then, I focus on what is going on in the class that I don’t already have a handle on: what skills are learned at this level?  What can I expect to come home for homework?  How is my child’s attitude toward others and toward school?  Is he a motivated learner?  Is he an independent worker?  What do you see as his strengths? His weaknesses?  I also make sure to offer my help to the teacher:  Is there anything I can do to help her? 

Subsequent conferences go much smoother if the rapport is established early in the year.  When problems arise, a relationship is already formed between teacher and parent, making any correction necessary a breeze.  When the child knows there is a relationship between parent and teacher, the “unknown” disappears.  It is a network of building a better student.  And, while I would love for everything my child’s teacher tells me to be wonderful, glowing news, it isn’t always that way.  With my relationship established with the teacher, it makes the “bad medicine” a bit easier to swallow.  I know she has my child’s best interests at heart.

And, while this all sounds great here on the computer screen, WRITE IT DOWN.  Going in with notes will help keep you on track and keep the conference short.  Ask your child for input as well before you go.  Is there something he or she would like for you to ask in your conference?  Be on time and keep it within your scheduled time slot.  Smile and enjoy.  You are getting to meet with a VIP in your child’s life!