I attend Parent/Teacher Conferences at my children’s schools every year. I do this for a few reasons: 1. To build a relationship with my kids’ teachers; 2. To keep track of and monitor their academic progress; 3. To show my kids and their teachers that their education is important to me.
Teachers are often surprised when I show up for the meetings, especially if I show up without my wife. I guess they’re not accustomed to seeing dads in the classroom. That’s why is so important for more fathers to attend Parent/Teacher Conferences. Our presence can change perceptions and positively influence educational decisions.
To make sure the Parent/Teacher Conferences are productive and successful, you’ll need to do these three things:
Before attending the conference, make sure you are prepared. You should have already viewed your child’s progress reports, reviewed homework assignments, and made initial contact with your child’s teacher(s) via e-mail, phone, or face-to-face meeting. Be sure to talk to your child about his classroom performance. Find out if he is struggling in any subjects. Ask about his perception of the teacher – Does he like her? Are there any personality conflicts? Is she teaching in a way that’s conducive to his learning style? How does she deal with behavior issues? Make notes about areas of concern and bring them up during the conference.
Ask Questions/Address Concerns
Some parents are intimidated by teachers. Other parents try to intimidate their child’s teachers. Neither approach is recommended. You and your child’s teacher are equal partners in your child’s education. You both want what’s best for your child. Always view each other as teammates rather than adversaries.
During the conference, it is important to have an in-depth conversation about your child’s performance, behavior, and emotional well-being. Discuss short-term and long-range goals, bring up policies and procedures that you’re confused about, and most importantly ask questions.
The National Education Association recommends that you ask these questions:
What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
How does my child get along with classmates?
Is my child working up to her ability? Where could she use improvement?
What can we do at home to support what you are doing in the classroom?
Here are a few more questions from my personal experience:
- What is your philosophy on homework?
- Have you seen any evidence of bullying? If so, how do you deal with it?
- Does my child participate in class discussions?
- Is my child ever disruptive or disrespectful?
- How can we partner to help my child to succeed in your class?
- How does the curriculum prepare my child for the state mandated tests? Is he on-track?
You should also let the teacher know about any issues at home that my affect your child’s academic performance or behavior at school.
When you get home, talk to your child about the things you discussed with the teacher. Be sure to start with positive comments and move on to areas that need improvement. A few days after the conference, send the teacher an e-mail message that summarizes your conversation. In the message, let her know what actions you are taking as a result of your conversation. It would also be a good time to schedule a follow-up meeting via phone or in person.
I encourage all fathers to attend Parent/Teacher Conferences. They will help you set expectations, identify areas of concerns, and build strong partnerships that will lead to better communication. Our children need us to be fully invested in their education, and teachers need to know that they have our support. Together, we can make a difference in our children’s education.
Join the conversation: Share your experiences with parent/teacher conferences. What advice do you have?
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