Conferences crucial to student growth

If you’re a parent, you have more than a full-time job. You juggle work and kids’ schedules. You try to make sure they eat good food, get plenty of sleep, stay on top of homework and, oh yeah, have fun. It can get hectic. Believe me, I know.

But there’s one more thing I need you to do: Get to your parent-teacher conference.

This is your chance to sit down and catch up with your child’s teacher — and learn about your child’s progress in school. And more importantly, we want to hear from you about how we can serve your child better.

In the San Francisco Unified School District, conferences begin next week for most elementary and middle school families. Here’s a list of questions to consider asking when you go:

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 what your child did for class projects and other assignments.

What are my child’s strengths?

Ask about where your child is excelling. It’s important to reinforce and build on these with your child. You might even learn about something your child loves that you didn’t 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 subjects where your child is experiencing challenges.

But also you can 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.

Talk it over with your child

Conference over? You’re not quite done. Make sure you talk one-on-one with your child after the meeting.

Emphasize the positive things you learned and discuss areas where improvements can be made. Make sure your child knows what everyone is going to do next to help him or her thrive.

If you haven’t scheduled your parent/teacher conference yet, please do. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn. 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 Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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