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Get early jump on parent-teacher conferences

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In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. When to schedule a meeting?
2. What are the benefits?
3. What are points to discuss?

The more you talk to your child’s teacher, the more you can help your child learn and grow.

Even in kindergarten, you can schedule a conference. Even if your child is not having problems, it’s good to check in.

1. WHEN TO SCHEDULE A MEETING?

Starting in elementary school, you can expect one or two scheduled conferences a year. However, you don’t have to wait, especially if you’re worried about an issue. By requesting a conference, you’re showing the teacher that you care about learning.

After classes begin, call the school to request a parent-teacher conference. This first meeting is a chance for you and the teacher to get to know each other. Tell the teacher what your child likes and what he’s good at.

“When you are a partner with the school, it is a beautiful thing,” said Doris Saffran, community education specialist for the School District of Palm Beach County.

Before the conference, talk to your child about how she’s doing. Look at the work she’s done so far.

2. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Parent-teacher conferences are chances for parents to hear from teachers how their child is performing in the classroom, as well as opportunities for parents to air any concerns, says Catherine Tedesco, the school district’s literacy manager for elementary education.

Start with one important question to ask. Conferences should end on a happy note and a plan of action. However, if you and the teacher can’t agree on what to do for your child, you may need to meet with the principal.

While teachers are the experts on learning, they should offer you choices. If your child needs additional help, the teacher may bring in a team to work on an individualized education plan (IEP) for the school year.

Be sure to describe any medical needs that may impact how your child performs in school. And if your child has special problems, ask if specialists are available.

3. WHAT ARE POINTS TO DISCUSS?

• Share family events with the teacher. A new baby, a divorce or a death can impact your child’s behavior. Knowing these things gives the teacher insight.

• Tell the teacher if you speak a different language at home. If your English is not strong, the teacher can arrange for a translator to join your conference.

• Write down a plan with the teacher, including what you can do to help your child learn.

• Schedule an appointment in a few weeks to follow up on your plan.

• Afterward, sit down with your child about the conference. Discuss how you will help and ask for suggestions.

SOURCES:

• Doris Saffran, community education specialist, elementary curriculum, School District of Palm Beach County

• Catherine Tedesco, literacy manager of elementary education, School District of Palm Beach County

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