Parent-teacher conferences are designed to help you keep a pulse on your preschooler’s progress. But at those first few meetings, moms can feel as nervous as a child on his first day of school.
“At these interviews I have no idea what to expect and what the teacher expects from me when [she] asks me if I have any questions,” says Circle of Moms member Vickie T. Rather than replying, ‘No, I don't have any questions at this time, but I will let you know if I have any concerns.,' she wants to come across "as a parent who does care about my child’s education."
1. Make Time for the Meeting
The most important thing you can do is to actually attend the meeting. “Unfortunately only about half of the parents of my students come to parent-teacher conferences,” says Jennifer K., who is both a teacher and a mom.
“Most teachers would be willing to meet before or after school or even have a phone conference. Basically, the parent-teacher conference is a time for you to make sure your child's needs are being met by the teacher and school.” If you can't make the initially proposed conference time, call the teacher and ask for a different date or time. And if you’re running late for a scheduled meeting, it’s common courtesy to contact the teacher beforehand, says a member who goes by 'Tickled Pink.'
2. Keep Distractions Out of the Classroom
To minimize distractions during the conference, turn off your cell phone and keep your children out of the meeting. “I've had parents who could barely look at their child's scores because they were busy trying to feed the baby, keep the baby occupied or keep the baby from choking on something in the classroom … Sometimes the best thing is for adventurous little ones is to stay home,” advises Jennifer K.
A member named Kimberly agrees, saying, “Leaving young children at home . . . [will] help you stay focused on the discussion with the teacher.”
3. Prepare a Few Questions
Several Circle of Moms members encourage bringing a short list of questions to the meeting, focusing on the one or two topics you want to discuss most. “Long lists of questions can consume the entire conference time and are often answered by the teacher as he/she shares your child's progress,” explains a member named Kimberly.
Your questions can include any concerns you might have about behavior, friendships, personality conflicts, or activities you can do at home to help supplement your child’s education, suggests Erica L. Ask the teacher whether your child is struggling or needs to be challenged, Kimberly adds. “Your teacher should be able to provide specific instructions to help you focus on the most important academic skills to reinforce,” she says.
You can also simply ask how your child's social skills are developing, going through a list of Essential Social Skills for Preschoolers.
4. Ask How You Can Help
Then, ask the teacher how you can help. At Rebekah D.'s parent-teacher meeting, she volunteers to buy some Montessori materials for the classroom as a gesture of her willingness to help. Other parents volunteer to read or share a skill with the students, which many teachers welcome.
Parent-teacher conferences are designed to keep the lines of communication open, so even if you don't yet have specific questions, just taking in what the teacher has to say is very important. “Being informed is one of the best ways to help your child achieve,” adds Bernadette G.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.