The start of a new school year means parent-teacher conferences will be quickly approaching. While some parents dread these meetings, they can actually be a great way to learn more about your child’s development, their strengths, and areas for improvement. The side of your child you see at home is not necessarily the same side their teacher sees in school. PT conferences are a valuable way to get different perspectives from people who work with your child in a variety of settings and on different skills.
Here are some ways you can feel more confident and prepared to meet with your child’s teacher this year:
Preparing for a Parent-Teacher Conference
Spend some time thinking about questions or concerns you may have, and write them down. You want to make the most of the short time you have during the meeting by jotting down important points you want to ensure are addressed, such as:
- how testing procedures work;
- how your child can make up work;
- what their classroom job entails.
Engage Your Child
Talk to your kids as well and see if they have any questions or concerns about the school year. Maybe they don’t like where they’re sitting because they can’t see well, or a nearby student is distracting, but they’re too shy to speak up. Perhaps they’re confused by something the teacher does or worried about an upcoming project. Kids can provide a lot of insightful feedback when given the chance to discuss their problems.
Communicating During the Meeting
On the day of the meeting, be sure to arrive on time or even a little early if possible. Teachers have a lot of parents to meet with, so one person running behind can throw off their whole schedule. If you think you’ll need extra time, talk to them about scheduling a follow up meeting where you’ll have more time to cover everything.
Keep an Open Mind
It can be just as tough for a teacher to talk about your child’s areas for improvement as it can be for you to hear about it. Go in with a positive attitude and an open mind. Just because your child scored poorly on a test, isn’t on grade level with their reading, or got in trouble for goofing around in the dismissal line doesn’t mean they’re destined to have a difficult year. Being proactive and open to discussing these challenges can help you put plans in place to address them before they become more serious.
Make it About More Than Academics
Parent-teacher conferences do not have to focus on solely academics. Yes, your child’s education is important, but so is their development and personal growth. Ask about their behavior and interactions with other children. Have they made new friends? Do they volunteer to help others? How do they spend their recess time? All of these things can provide insight into how they are doing, areas where they are thriving, and skills that could use some work – which all impact their overall performance in school.
Ask about how you can better support your child’s progress at home. Are there certain activities you can do together to strengthen their reading or math? Should you be observing their balance and coordination a little more closely, or how well they focus on completing tasks? Your child’s teacher may notice issues you often overlook because you’re so familiar with your child and how they function. What you see as a quirk, they may recognize as something that needs more serious attention.
Taking Action After a Parent-Teacher Conference
Just as you took notes before the parent-teacher conference, make sure you take notes during the meeting so you have something to refer back to afterward. Note any concerns you want to bring up with your child’s healthcare provider. You may also want to talk to other teachers or specialists who work with your child and get their insight and feedback too.
Once you have talked with your child’s teacher, find out the best way to follow up with them. Do they respond best to email or phone calls? Should you meet again in a few weeks to see how your child is progressing? Do you need to potentially develop accommodations or additional supports for them in school?
Finding Support and Therapy
If your child is struggling with physical activities, handwriting, cutting or coloring, following directions, coping with different sensory environments, or other skills that are impacting their performance in school, scheduling an evaluation with a physical therapist or occupational therapist can be beneficial. The therapy experts at Therapeutic Movements can help to identify potential problems and work with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses your child’s unique needs. These evaluations and recommendations can also be used to support them in school and help them to receive access to appropriate accommodations.
Find out more by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions page or calling today to schedule a consultation. Make the most of parent-teacher conferences by zeroing in on your child’s strengths and areas for improvement and getting them the support they need to excel at school.