As I am about to have my first parent-teacher conference of the year for my typical son, before Open House. I know that the teacher has concerns, and for once, we might be sharing those concerns. Hoping to be on the same page, I want to consolidate the issues that we have see for the past few years and summarize them in a sentence or two. With a high IQ, average to low-average test scores, and at-risk for being labeled lazy, we are entering the territory of responsibility, organization, and increasing academic goals. Something has to change, and I think it might begin with a teacher who sees what I have seen for years, and not fall on deaf ears.
So I really want to start this meeting with my best foot forward and Googled "parent-teacher conference," and I came across a website by the National Association of Special Education Teachers, which includes Parent Teacher Conference Handouts. They include a sample How Parents Can Help Their Children with Homework, and note "Parents should always be aware of symptoms indicating the possibility of more serious learning problems. Many of these symptoms may show up during homework." My goal is to see if our homework issues are typical of tween-age boy -- or may indicate that a learning issue is coming to the surface.
The Association also includes a PDF from the Harvard Family Research Project, Parent–Teacher Conference Tip Sheets for Principals, Teachers, and Parents where the main point for parents and teachers is to "be heard" during a parent–teacher conference:
Best intentions assumed
Emphasis on learning
Examples and evidence
Respect for all
Dedication to follow-up
They advise that parents should ask about their child's progress (performing at grade level? how can he improve?); view assignments and assessments; share your child’s strengths and weaknesses; ask how you can support your child at home. As the school needs to provide appropriate learning environment, "find out what services are available at the school to help your child" and how the teacher can "challenge" and "support" your child.
Reviewing your child's "homework, tests, and notices" -- and bringing a list of questions for the teacher are just as important as allowing a two-way conversation between parent and teacher. Active listening on both parts is critical. For some, it is too easy to forget key questions while getting caught up in conversation. By bringing a list, a parent can take the time to hear and understand what the teacher is saying, as well as stay focused on key concerns. Finally, they suggest “be ready to ask questions about ways you and the teacher can help your child with some of his or her challenges.” I'm ready.
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