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 hope you do: Get to your parent/teacher conference.
This is your chance to sit down and catch up with your child’s teacher to learn about your child’s progress in school.
Each school creates their own schedule, but most conferences begin next week for elementary and middle school families. Here’s a list of questions to consider asking when you go.
1. What is my child expected to learn this year?
Ask what is being studied. This is also a good time for the teacher to show you what your child did for class projects and other assignments. The teacher can review the grade level standards your child is learning.
2. How is he/she progressing?
It’s not enough to know the standards, we also want to know how well your child is progressing toward meeting these standards. We actually create multiple ways for teachers to assess the progress your student is making during the school year. Ask the teacher to share the results of any assessments done so far. Elementary parents can ask about their child’s reading level.
3. What are my child’s strengths?
Ask about where your child is excelling. It’s important to reinforce and build on these areas 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 even if your child is part of the conference.
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 — including your child.
Please be sure to make time for your 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.
Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.