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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2006

Parents should talk to teacher

By Jan Turner

Speaking with your child's teacher is the best way to get a full understanding of how he or she is faring in school.

Combined with the feedback you get from your child on a day-to-day basis, the parent-teacher conference can help you find the most effective ways to help your child succeed academically. If you prepare some thoughts on the issues you are most concerned about as a parent before going into the conference, you can help the teacher understand your child better. And the teacher can offer suggestions on how to help your child at home as well.

Here are five tips to prepare for your parent-teacher conference:

  • Schedule the conference to give the teacher enough time to prepare work samples, comments, etc. This way, the teacher will not be caught off-guard and you will be sure to have his or her undivided attention.

  • Come with a set of specific questions or concerns for the teacher. For example, "I'm concerned that Johnny is having trouble with division. What can I do to help at home?" is more productive and useful than "How's Suzy doing in school?" If possible when you schedule the conference, give the teacher a brief summary of your concerns so the teacher can be prepared to address them fully.

  • Be prepared to ask for and offer suggestions for helping your child at home as well as questions about what the teacher is doing to help your child in school. This shows that, as your child's primary educator, you are willing to help at home and work as a team with your child's teacher.

  • If possible, bring examples of your child's work about which you have concerns. This will help the teacher to remember specific details about assignments. The teacher will not necessarily have memorized the exact problems your child has on any given assignment.

  • Take notes about the teacher's concerns and suggestions. Often, a teacher will provide a conference form on which to take notes. It's a good idea to write down the concerns both you and the teacher have, and exactly what both of you, and your child, will do to help your child be successful. Keep this on file for future conferences.

    This column is provided through the Hawai'i State Teachers Association. Jan Turner is a teacher at Solomon Elementary, at Schofield Barracks.