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Parents are PartnersPost Date: Monday, Oct 5, 2015
Fall marks a time of new schedules, new classmates, new teachers...and new parent-teacher conferences; which, for many parents, is the first opportunity to speak with their child's teacher, usually for about 10 to 15 minutes or so.
You can gain the most from this meeting when you approach it as a platform on which to build a partnership with your child's teacher - one that should last throughout the academic year.
In such short time, however, it's often difficult to discern how you can best help your child succeed in meeting all of the new academic challenges ahead. While some teachers might share a definitive course of action, most parents find it best to be prepared and aware of warning signs that a student could be struggling in class.
In The Parent-Teacher Partnership: How to Work Together for Student Achievement, Dr. Scott Mandel suggests several ways that parents contribute to making parent-teacher conferences a more productive and informative time.
Always plan ahead and prepare questions in case the teacher doesn't cover all the points you're hoping to address, as examples:
What do you see as my child's major strengths and weaknesses?
Teachers also appreciate learning from you about what's happening with your child at home, both at the time of your conference and beyond. It's important to inform the teacher when any changes are occurring with your child's life, such as medications, family problems, or even when a family member is hospitalized.
"Sometimes a child starts acting up in class, and the teacher thinks it's just a behavior problem, but doesn't realize that Grandpa had a heart attack this weekend," observes Mandel.
Also let the teacher know when you see signals of academic struggles, as there are usually early warning signs that your child needs help before the first report card comes out. Now is the time to seek extra help if your child:
Seems to work hard, but still receives mediocre grades.
The teacher sees your child from a different perspective than you do and can tell you if your child is falling behind in academic skills or subjects. Working with the teacher, create a plan to improve your student's progress in class and ask what specific things you can do at home to help, like hiring a tutor or providing extra help with homework.
"Unfortunately for too many parents, the first teacher conference is also the first wakeup call they get regarding their child's academic struggles," says Chad Schwartz, founder of Tutoring Club. "By taking action now, you not only give your child a much better chance to overcome skill gaps, but ensure higher achievement throughout the year."
Ask Tutoring Club for a free Parent-Tutor Conference to help you assess academic gaps and how your child can overcome them. With exclusive TutorAid programs that provide individualized instruction for math, reading, writing, or ACT/SAT prep, Tutoring Club guarantees your child will succeed.
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