With millions of American children settled back into the routine of a new school year, it's time for parents to get ready for parent-teacher conferences. According to Cheryl Murzyn of the Flower Mound Huntington Learning Center, for parents, such an opportunity to meet face-to-face, one-on-one with your child's teacher has many significant benefits – and should not be missed. “Parent-teacher conferences are one of the most valuable tools available to parents,” says Murzyn. “These meetings are the best way for parents to learn very specifically how their child is doing in school, including any learning or other problems they might not be aware of.” Not only that, says Murzyn, such conferences are “the key to developing a collaborative relationship with your child's teacher.”
To make the most of parent-teacher conferences, what kinds of questions should parents ask? Murzyn suggests using the following framework to come up with your own list of discussion points:
Your Child's Progress
The most obvious topic of your parent-teacher conference will be your child's school performance. Talk with your child's new teacher about how your child is adjusting to the increased difficulty of lessons and class work. Questions to ask about your student's academic development might include:
· What are the school's/state's grade level standards?
· Is my child performing to grade level standards?
· Is he or she keeping up with homework assignments and participating in class?
· What are my child's strengths? In what areas could he or she improve?
Grading and Expectations
It is important to understand how your child will be evaluated by his or her teacher throughout the year. Here are a few questions you can ask to ensure you are aware of what will be expected of your child:
· What standardized exams will my child take this year, and how will you help prepare your students for such tests in the classroom?
· How do you grade assignments?
· How do you determine my child's report card grades and marks? What are the various components of these grades?
· How much time should my child spend on homework each night?
· What skills should my child master this quarter/semester? How can I best keep track of his or her progress?
All teachers welcome and encourage parental involvement, so use your conference as an opportunity discuss how you should support your child at home. Questions to ask include:
· How can I help my child improve his or her areas of weakness?
· How can I help my child stay organized and on top of his or her homework assignments and projects?
· What can I do to support you in your classroom objectives?
· What suggestions do you have on how to approach homework time? What is an appropriate level of parental involvement and support?
At the end of your parent-teacher conference, you will likely come away with a list of action items – both for you and your child's teacher. Here are a few questions to ask before you part ways:
· What is the best way to communicate with you moving forward?
· What should I strive to accomplish with my child before our next parent-teacher conference and how would you like me to inform you of my progress?
· What will you strive to accomplish before our next meeting (related to my child) and how can I stay apprised of your progress?
Article provided by Dr. Raymond J. Huntington, founder of Huntington Learning Center, which has been helping children succeed in school for more than 30 years. For more information about Huntington, call 1-800 CAN LEARN.