The Teacher is Talking: Requesting a Conference

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By Leslie Lindsay

It’s that time of year again–(optional) parent-teacher conferences.  I think it works both ways: a teacher can request a conference with you, the parent(s) or you can request a conference with your child’s teacher.  Either way, it’s best to go prepared.

My own daughter is struggling with two things I absolutely adore: reading and writing.  So, it was a bit of a blow when she came home one day, unpacked her backpack and procured a “Conference Request” sheet from her green folder.  How can my precious off-spring not love to read and write?!  How can she not get her work done unless she is given redirection?  Before I get my panties in a bundle, I have to remember she is just in 1st grade.  (Although, I know that 1st grade is the cornerstone of a long, and hopefully happy academic career).

What’s a parent to do:

  • Stay calm and remain neutral.  Maybe there is a good reason why these subjects are particularly challenging.  Getting to the root of the cause is key.
  • Don’t freak out on your kiddo by making her do extra homework or telling her she isn’t “good enough.”  How productive would that be?
  • Let your child see that learning is fun.  Does she see you read?  Do you write anything–ever?  Let her be with you when you do.  Read fun books.
  • Bring learning  to life.  Read interesting and engaging children’s books with your child.  We recently read “A Boy Called Dickens” about Charles Dickens.  Now, do I consider Charles Dickens interesting?  Well, not really but with the engaging illustrations and fun text, my kids did.
  • Go the conference prepared.  Do your homework ahead of time.  What have you done at home to help your child?  What research can you bring to justify your concerns?  What do you see your child struggling with?  What questions do you have for the teacher?
  • Here are some questions you may consider asking the teacher:  What does he excel at?  What do you think makes it [reading, writing, math, etc] more fun/challenging for her?  Are there any other concerns that you believe may be connected to the overall problem?  How have you handled students like this in your past years of teaching?  Would you recommend a tutor?  Do you know of anyone who may be able to help?
  • When you leave the conference, make sure your child knows you love and care for her.  Your kiddo spends the majority of her waking days with this teacher/in this classroom; it’s very important to her.  Let her know that.  Let her know that you will do whatever it takes to help her become a better learner, because she is important to you. 

You may also be interested in reading a blog by nannypro.com, “Top 10 Reasons your Child Needs a Tutor Other Than You.”  You can find this at:  http://www.nannypro.com/blog/10-signs-your-child-needs-a-better-tutor-than-you/

Class dismissed! 

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