Parent-teacher conferences an important part of your child’s education 

As a parent with a full-time job, I know how busy we adults get. But none of us should miss out on attending parent-teacher conferences. In the San Francisco Unified School District, conferences begin next week for most elementary and middle school families.

These conferences are a chance to sit down with your child’s teacher to talk about your child’s progress in school and to get your questions answered.

I have a handy set of questions for you to use when talking to your child’s teacher. They will help you to better understand what is being taught in the classroom, how well your child is doing, and what you can do at home to help your child.

What is my child expected to learn this year, and how is he or she progressing? Ask what is being studied right now in math, English, science and other subjects. This is also a good time for the teacher to show you examples of class projects and assignments.

What are my child’s strengths? Ask about your child’s strengths because it’s important to reinforce and build on these with your child. Maybe you’ll learn about ways your child is exceling in something you didn’t even know about. You can also use this time to tell the teacher what you see as strengths in your child.

In which area does my child need improvement? This question is crucial. Ask the teacher what support your child is receiving in the classroom to improve in whatever subject necessary. But also ask what you can do at home to help reinforce what is being taught at school. It could be as simple as asking your child to help you prepare a dinner recipe or finding some books at the library that relate to what’s being studied in class.

Make sure you talk with your child after the meeting. Emphasize the positive things, and then discuss areas where improvements can be made and what everyone is going to do next to help your child thrive.

In our busy lives, we sometimes have precious little time to discuss our child’s progress in school with important experts — your child’s teachers. If you haven’t made time for it, please do — you’d be surprised how much you can learn in just one parent-teacher conference.

These conferences are a fundamental part of being involved in your child’s education, and they send the message to your child that his or her education matters.

Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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