Back-to-school shopping is old news now, same with those meet-and-greet parent nights. Next up: the end of the first marking period in November, hence report cards. And, for some, that means hand-wringing
If that’s the case, be sure to contact the appropriaate teacher(s) right away. Sometimes a brief phone conversation will suffice, but often a face-to-face meeting is called for, so set one up. This way, you’ll know sooner than later what’s going on and what to do about it.
Once a conference has been scheduled . . .
1. Alert your child; no going behind his/her back.
2. Enlist your child’s help in drafting questions to ask.
3. Don’t bring your child with you unless advised to do so.
4. Leave younger siblings at home unless assured they’ll quietly engage in a pre-arranged activity.
5. Be prompt; such meetings are usually scheduled during a teacher’s only “free” period or after school.
6. Don’t overstay your welcome. When the bell rings, the next class begins. As for an after-school meeting, teachers need to get home, so wrap things up in a timely fashion.
7. Come equipped with your prepared questions, along with paper and pen/pencil for jotting down teacher suggestions and the strategies you’ll need to implement at home.
8. Share any home issues that may be negatively impacting your child’s schoolwork, along with his/her special interests.
9. Don’t get defensive when a teacher relays negative information about your child. Instead, be open-minded and uncover as much as you can.
10. Establish the steps to be taken both at school and at home, such as getting the assignment book signed every day.
11. Afterward, share most of what was said with your child, focusing on the positive but addressing concerns.
12. Review the recommended strategies together, such as tackling homework soon after school, starting with the hardest subject first, Then come up with a doable plan.
13. Do some goal-setting, making sure each one is reasonable, attainable.
14. Monitor progress and adjust goals and priorities as you go along.
The same advice applies to school-wide conference days/nights. If invited, keep in mind that such meetings are usually scheduled 15 minutes apart, so be prepared to get right to the point. After all, the next parents are right outside the classroom door waiting their turn.
Thereafter, stay connected and help out when you can, too. As educator Arthur Pober reminds us: “What do children need to do their best in school? Fine teachers, the latest textbooks, state-of-the-art classrooms? All help, but nothing has a more profound effect than parents who get involved.