Parent-teacher meetings are an essential part of your child’s educational process. For the past 23 years, I have been a practicing School Psychologist, and I also have over five years of experience as a Special Education Administrator. I have extensive knowledge of children’s behavioral, social, emotional, and educational development.
I founded Special Education Guru to utilize my experience working inside the educational system to help families understand and obtain all of the educational opportunities and services that are available to their children. I also provide advice, answers to questions, and work as a “go-between” to help parents become a more active and effective participant in their child’s school meetings, parent-teacher meetings, and IEP meetings.
The following ten tips will help you better understand and prepare for your next parent-teacher conference. If you need my help, please feel free to contact me.
Parent-teacher meetings are a wonderful opportunity to:
- understand and review your child’s academic progress based on assessments, testing data, classroom observations, and work assignments,
- receive advice from your child’s teachers about your child’s needs, learning styles, behavior, strengths, weaknesses, and potential disabilities,
- discuss potential intervention strategies or enrichment programs to best support your child’s learning and progress,
- and discuss matters that could be hindering your child’s learning and development.
Parent-teacher meetings are brief meetings that last about 30 minutes and are typically offered once or twice a year. Usually, parent-teacher meetings are scheduled at least one month in advance.
IEP and 504 meetings typically last 45 minutes to an hour. These meetings occur annually and upon request for any additional required meeting time.
The coronavirus has helped to make these meetings more convenient with the use of video conferencing technology.
Tip 1. Maximize The Opportunity of the Parent-Teacher Meetings.
The primary focus of all parent-teacher meetings is your child’s learning, behavioral, and social development. This is the best time to discuss, plan, and make arrangements concerning a wide range of educational matters such as reviewing standardized test results, discussing the possibility of or revising an existing individualized education program (IEP) for your child, creating or submitting your child’s 504 education plans, review your child’s classroom behavior, understand your child’s peer relationships, improve your child’s motivation, improve your child’s work habits, and understand your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses..
Tip 2. Ensure that Your Child’s Other Teachers, School Administrator and Relevant School Staff will be attending. You may wish to Bring Your Own Educational Advocate to Each Parent-Teacher Meeting.
One way you can really enhance the parent-teacher conference is to assemble your child’s instructional team in one meeting. This will help you receive a more balanced assessment of your child’s learning, development, and behavior. Anyone can be a great second set of ears: a good friend or relative is a great resource. A formal educational advocate may be valuable if you feel your child may not be receiving the level of services you feel he or she needs.
Tip 3. Prepare in Advance.
It is important to prepare for the parent-teacher meeting in advance. Familiarize yourself with your child’s school policies, grade policies, individualized education programs (IEPs), 504 education plans, and any other relevant educational programs and services.
Tip 4. Be Friendly.
You must exercise patience and remain calm, cool, collected during your meeting. When meeting your child’s teachers, make a positive first impression by smiling, and being warm, friendly, and courteous. These meetings can be emotional. It may not be a bad idea to bring a useful, inexpensive, and thoughtful gift for the teacher/school team as a rapport builder and conversation starter.
Tip 5. Tip 5. If your Child is with you, Bring Items to Keep Your Child Busy and Distracted During the Meeting.
It is recommended that you bring games, puzzles, and an electronic device such as a laptop or mobile device with headphones. This way your child can sit toward the back of the room and watch videos or play games, while the meeting discusses more sensitive topics.
Tip 6. Bring a Notepad and Pens to Take Notes.
Always take extensive notes during the parent-teacher meetings and ask for clarifications when necessary. This way, you can refer to your notes later and discuss the items with your spouse, educational advocate etc.
Tip 7. Ask Questions and Listen.
Ask your child’s teachers and school staff for their input concerning your child’s needs, learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. Try to avoid “yes or no” questions to allow for a more informative answer.
Tip 8. Create a Plan for Both the Classroom and at Home.
Ask your child’s teacher for their suggestions regarding for strategies and activities that support your child’s motivation and learning at home. Define specific academic and learning goals for your child.
Tip 9. Follow Up.
A “Thank You” card is a nice touch that will help to build a better relationship between you and your child’s teacher. You could also encourage your child to give their teacher a “Thank You” card. In your “Thank You” card, be sure to provide your cell phone number and email. Ask the teacher to contact you for any additional questions or concerns.
Tip 10. Communicate Regularly.
It is always beneficial to send your teacher updates on any guidance that the teacher has provided you. This is really helpful and encourages your child’s teacher to update you on any noticeable improvements. At any time, you may request an additional meeting with the school team.
Bonus Tip. Enhance Your Child’s Learning and Development.
After a parent-teacher meeting and potential frequent progress updates between you and your child’s teacher, review and improve your child’s education plan and at-home strategies. Update any instructional decisions every 3 to 4 months to help your child grow and achieve in the classroom.
If you have any questions about how Special Education Guru can assist you with your child’s educational progress or challenges, please contact us at your earliest convenience.