You pick up the phone and immediately you hear your son’s 7th grade math teacher on the other line. His teacher proceeds to tell you that not only did your son get caught cheating on a test but he raised his voice to her when she scolded him. After numbly listening then subsequently arranging a parent-teacher conference for that afternoon, you hang up and all you can think is, “I’m going to kill him!” This situation is the startling reality for many parents who find themselves having to go to the school for a parent-teacher conference where bad news is going to be received.
While many parents may dread the thought of attending a conference the statistics show that having them can actually help your child succeed. According to Public Agenda (2003), two-thirds of teachers surveyed believed that the children in their classroom would perform better in school if parents were more involved in their child’s education. While another study (Johnson & Deffett) stated that children of uninvolved parents sometimes “fall through the cracks”.
So there’s no argument that parent-teacher conferences are crucial for the success of your child. So how can you make a conference positive when you’re going to the school for a negative reason?
1. Be positive. When you walk into the conference go with a smile on your face, no matter how you may feel about being there. Make sure you shake hands and display body language that isn’t defensive or hostile. Having to go to your child’s school under “dire” circumstances is stressful, but try to see the good in the situation.
2. Offer solutions. This is your child so be proactive about some solutions to the issues that are occurring. If your child is tardy to school because they miss the bus daily, then think about some things you can do to help your child be on time such as getting them to bed on time or waking them up earlier to be on time.
3. Schedule a later date to check your child’s progress. Don’t let this be the only time you go up to the school. Follow up on your child’s progress through email, telephone call or another conference. This will show your child that you’re serious about staying involved in their schooling.
4. Try and show a united front with the school. Sometimes you can find yourself disagreeing with the school and/or it’s policies. However before you argue your point think about the best thing to do for your child. For example, you may find it ludicrous that children are “disciplined” due to tardiness, but if you side with the school this could teach your child an important lesson about being on time.
What do you do to make parent-teacher conferences more positive?