Parent-teacher conferences, helping parents be prepared

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – Parent teacher conferences are an important part of a child’s education. Maranda recently sat down with educators from the Ottawa ISD to discuss advice for parents as they head into these important meetings.

There are not too many opportunities throughout the school year to connect with parents about their child’s progress. It is essential that parents and teachers meet, share successes/concerns, and find out how the school can best support them. It’s all about building a relationship which in turn leads to trust.

What questions should parents be asking? Parents need to ask how they can best support at home. Be very transparent about things. For example, if they are struggling with finding time to help their child or to get into a structured routine, they should say that so that teachers can find ways to support best. If parents don’t understand homework, they need to let the teacher know. If a teacher says something during the conference that might be confusing, the parent should definitely ask for clarification.

Are there things parents can do to prepare? If parents can write down thoughts prior to coming that would be very positive. Conferences are typically 20 minute blocks and that time goes by fast. By writing things down ahead of time will help keep the conversation focused and be a third point of reference during the conference.

Conferences are extremely important for all students, but particularly for students who are in special education. The communication and coordination between educators and parents needs to remain open and continuous to ensure success for the student! It is also important to hold a conference with all who work with your child at school: general education teachers, special education teachers, therapists, etc.

Parents should be asking specific questions and sharing input from home. The parent is a valued member of the team, and they should know that educators greatly value their input and being informed! It is very appreciated. They might also share what could they do to support the teacher at home and how the teacher can help support what they are doing at school.

Parents can be sure to review grade reports (if available electronically). They should also be aware of specific areas their student may be struggling in. Parent teacher conferences are never the time to bring up for the first time that a student is struggling! If your student is in special education and has an IEP, be sure to review goals and objectives, as they should be addressed and progress discussed.

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