For some parents, teacher conferences can be a stressful time. No one likes to hear that their child is having challenges at school. However, teacher conferences can also be a great time to collaborate as a team and develop strategies to support your child. Here are some helpful tips for meeting with your child’s teacher:
-Start on a positive note. This helps everyone to start out on the same side and feel calmer about the problem-solving process. You could tell the teacher something your student likes about the class or let the teacher know you appreciate all the hard work they do. You could even ask the teacher for some positive traits they see in your child.
-Ask for specific examples of your child’s struggles. This could range from which types of assignments are hardest to which time of day your child has most trouble participating. For example, if the teacher says there are some behavior challenges, ask if there is anything that happens right before or during the behavior. Is it during a difficult subject, right after recess, during group work, or during a time that is more noisy? Finding patterns can help everyone address the behavior.
-Ask the teacher for classroom strategies that are working so far. The teacher can help you understand the type of support your child currently needs and you may find some of those strategies also work at home.
-Be prepared to describe specific examples of difficulties completing homework or studying. Let the teacher know the approaches you find most helpful. For example, if you need to say directions in a different way or give your child an outline for a paper, this is great information for teachers. The teacher may have more ideas for home support.
-Let the teacher know of any outside help you are getting. For example, if your child sees an educational specialist or speech-language pathologist, bring reports and/or goals to help the teacher learn about your child.
-Ask your outside provider to give you a list of appropriate classroom strategies and accommodations, based on your child’s learning challenges. For example, having a child sit close to the teacher for easy check-ins can be very useful. As another example, your child could benefit from written directions to help him/her remember the steps, or oral presentation of directions/questions to support reading difficulties.
-Ask for the preferred way to check in with the teacher– is a quick weekly email check-in or phone call helpful to keep everyone up to date on missing assignments or new issues? It is better to problem-solve early on than to wait until the end of the semester to discover areas of need.
-If you feel that your child needs more than the typical classroom teacher can provide, ask what services are available at the school for additional support.
Author: Erica Krzyzanowski, MS, CCC/SLP