Elementary School: The Foundation for Academic Success
Before you even set foot in the classroom, take a minute to prepare. First, talk to your student. Ask what she would like you to discuss with her teacher, and if she has any likes and dislikes about how the class spends its days. Then promise (and this is important) that you will talk to her after the conference and let her know what was said.
Take some time with your own thoughts before your conference. Prepare some questions in advance. For instance, you might want to know if your student has any learning disabilities, whether she is working at grade level, or whether she is above grade level. Find out if your student is more often a ringleader or follower when it comes to class projects. Is she disruptive or generally obedient? Make sure you ask what you can do to help her at home to be more successful at school.
Her teacher will want to know if your student has any medical needs, any favorite subjects or hobbies, and/or whether anything particularly stressful is happening at home that could affect her school performance (a new baby, a move, etc.).
While you are at the conference, ask to see your student's work--the teacher will no doubt already have prepared a whole folder for you to look at. If the teacher talks about something you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask for explanations. Teaching, like any profession, has its own terminology and shorthand with which you might not be familiar. Before you leave the conference, go over what has been said and whatever agreements you may have made so that both you and the teacher are clear on any plan of action.
After the conference, you still need to follow up. Have that talk that you promised your daughter, relating to her what was said and agreed on at the conference. Stress anything positive that was mentioned, and talk about suggestions for improvements. Together with your child, make a plan to carry out those improvements. Make sure you review progress reports and report cards whenever they come home.
More on: Parental Involvement
From Say Yes To College: A Practical and Inspirational Guide to Raising College-Bound Kids by Sharon Chandler and Elizabeth Crane. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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