The Parent-Teacher Conference is a valuable tool to obtain an objective description of your teen outside the home and in an academic, social environment. In order to make the most of the conference, you should be prepared with a list of questions. It is also a good idea to write down what you have observed at home about your child and what your concerns are. Bringing together parent’s and teacher’s observations is one of the best ways to get a handle on how to help your child academically and socially.
There are a number of must-ask questions in the areas of academics, social problems, and problems between your child and the teacher. There are also specific ways to help your child with any problems, which includes considering a private school program at the first sign of trouble.
If you child is struggling academically, ask these questions:
- What do you think about my child’s level of ability?
- What specifically do you think is causing my child difficulties?
- Is there any tutoring available at the school to help my child catch-up before it affects the rest of the year?
- Do you think it is appropriate to have my child tested for a learning disability?
- What can we do, as parents, to help our child do better in school?
If your child is having trouble socially, which includes feeling isolated, persecuted in any way, or getting into fights, ask these questions:
- Do you know if my child has any friends, and if so, do you believe these friends are a positive influence?
- Why do you think my child is struggling socially?
- How can you help my child feel more confident and get along with the rest of his or her classmates? And what are your suggestions about how I can help?
- Do you think it would benefit my child to talk to a school counselor or private psychologist?
If your child is having difficulty with a particular teacher, ask these questions:
- Do you think my child’s behavior in your class is appropriate?
- Are you aware that my child is having a difficult time working with you?
- What are your suggestions for improving the relationship between yourself and my child?
- Would a transfer to another class be in the best interests of my child?
These are questions that you must ask to get the most out of the conference:
- What is my child expected to achieve academically this year?
- In what way do you evaluate my child?
- Can you tell me how grades are determined in your class?
- Can you suggest specific ways I can be more involved in my child’s progress and daily homework assignments?
- How do you handle differences in learning ability in your classroom?
The most effective way to get the most out of a parent-teacher conference is to be observant and involved with your teen at home. Consider keeping a diary of daily events; often reading about arguments at a later time provides insight that could not be achieved immediately afterwards.
Finally, it is always a good idea to immediately research private school programs as soon as you are aware that your teen is struggling. Public schools are not always equipped to deal with individual problems, and they often handle problems by making a quick – and often erroneous – conclusion that the student is “slow,” and then placing them in a class for “slow students.” This carries a great stigma with peers and in the academic community, and is extremely destructive to a child’s self-esteem.
Private school programs are centered on the fact that every child is unique and deserves respect. The faculty is trained to work with specific problems. The goal is to help students gain confidence and achieve the most they are capable of – and then believe that their achievement level, whatever it is, is acceptable and perfectly normal.