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Article of Interest - Parenting

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Bridges4Kids Logo10 Tips to Prepare for a Parent-Teacher Conference
by Christy L. Breithaupt, Special to The Detroit News, August 3, 2004
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Parent-teacher conferences are designed for both the parent and the teacher to learn things about the children in question. Preparation is key if you really want to utilize your time with your childís teacher, says Joan Firestone, director of early childhood for Oakland Schools.

Here are 10 tips on how to prepare for a better parent-teacher conference:

1. Write down any questions you might have. Often parents will have several questions but forget them as soon as they sit down.

2. Talk with your child before the conference to see if he has any questions or concerns heíd like you to discuss. Also, ask your child if thereís anything he thinks you should know before going so that there wonít be any surprises.

3. Although parent-teacher conferences can be a place to discuss problems, itís better if you attack large problems when they happen. Donít wait until a conference to contact your teacher about a serious issue.

4. If you have questions about some of the work your child has done or a grade given by the teacher, bring the papers in question to the conference. The teacher most likely has copies but it will save you time if you bring your own.

5. At the fall conferences when youíre meeting a new teacher, come prepared to tell the teacher about your child. Include in your description the childís personality, academic difficulties and family goals. This will allow the teacher to better assist the child.

6. Tell the teacher about any family issues, such as a divorce or death in the family. This can explain any changes in mood and help the teacher watch out for the child.

7. If your child has any nagging health problems, such as chronic ear infections, let the teacher know so the problem can be identified quickly.

8. If the teacher says something upsetting about your child, be sure to keep your cool. Remember, the teacher is sharing this information for the good of your child. If, after a long discussion, you and the teacher cannot see eye-to-eye, you can request the principalís help.

9. If possible, both parents should attend the conference. This allows the parents to bounce ideas off each other later and can help to give the teacher a deeper understanding of your child. If both parents are unable to attend, most teachers will create separate time slots.

10. As your children enter high school, it may be helpful to bring a photo of your child to the conference. Teachers often have more than 200 students and some quiet children might be better recognized by picture than by name.


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