10 Tips for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference
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6. Write down all questions and concerns beforehand so you remember them. Take notes during the conference and jot down new questions as you go.
7. Be an advocate. Work with the teacher to develop the best plan for your child. If the teacher downplays your concerns, don't be afraid to push a bit. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires public schools to provide free and appropriate special education services to meet the learning needs of eligible children with disabilities. Getting the right diagnosis, and the services and accommodations that go with it, may require persistence. If your child doesn't have a diagnosable learning disability but still struggles, cognitive skills testing can reveal if weak cognitive skills are the root cause of the problem. You may also need to insist on more testing, or outside testing, when seeking enhancement opportunities for a gifted child.
8. Be prepared for open-ended questions, such as "How do you think she's doing?" or "Is there anything I should know about?" Be honest! Tell the teacher if you have concerns or if there's something at home that could impact your child, like a divorce, new baby, soccer league, or insomnia. If you're near the end of the conference, this is your opportunity to ask key questions if the teacher hasn't already answered them - questions like "How does my child interact with others? Is she working up to her ability?" And most importantly, "What can we do at home to reinforce what you're doing at school?"
9. Make a follow-up plan and set a timeline for updates. Confirm the best time and manner to contact the teacher to check on progress.
10. Finish at home. Even if there are no problems, chances are your child was a little nervous about conferences too, so be sure to share praise, concerns, and solutions.
For more information on LearningRx and Richard Mancuso, visit www.learningrx.com/nyc-upper-east-side.