Everyone is busy these days, working, multi-tasking, and trying to manage it all. As parents, it’s important to take an active role in your child’s education and attending the parent-teacher conference is one way to achieve that.

By Wendi Ostroff

Arriving on time and prepared to discuss how your child can reach their full potential makes that first step. Your goal is to develop an action plan for your child’s success and these 6 tips should help you along the way:

1. Be prepared for your conference:

• Do your own homework about school policies and programs.

2. Check in with your child to see if there is anything they would like you to discuss in their conference and how they are feeling about school:

• Bring a work sample if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s work.

3. Have a few questions you want to discuss about your child’s progress:

• Ask about how they get along with their peers and other social interactions.
• Ask what can be done at home to help support what they’re doing in school.
• Are they working up to their potential, participating in class, do they seem motivated or underperforming?

4. Take notes. It’s not always easy to remember everything the teacher goes over, and with a limited amount of time (usually 30 minutes or less) you want to get the most from your meeting together.

• Keeping a record of topics covered in a conference is helpful for future meetings and help measure progress or consistent areas of weakness.

5. Stay in touch and connected.

• When parents and teachers are on the same page, it helps make for a successful school year for the student. Ask the teacher what the best way to communicate is should a need arise.
• Volunteer for a field trip, on a committee, or other project so you are involved and show your child how important their education is to you.

6. Discuss with your child any follow-up action plan to help them be more successful.

• Go over the meeting with your child. Stick to the positive and help them in areas that need improvement.
• Track progress so you can determine if goals and progress are being made throughout the year.

The 6th grade is the transition to junior high/middle school. Ask about how prepared they are for this next step and if there is anything they can do at home or over the summer. Be open to suggestions and ready to support your child.

Remember to thank the teacher and acknowledge all their hard work and dedication. As a former elementary school teacher, I can attest to working 6-day weeks most of the school year, always bringing work home, and planning for a new, more engaging lesson.