Successful parent-teacher conferences are all about being comfortable. As a parent, I know they can be a time of high anxiety for parents. As an educator, I can assure you, it is also an anxiety provoking experience for teachers. Teachers, as part of their yearly professional development, are often provided with skills, tips and practice that make the experience easier. For many nursery school parents, this is the first chance to sit down and conference with a teacher about their child. I would like to suggest the following things in order to minimize nerves and make your parent-teacher conference as successful as possible:
Relax, breath, and remember everyone in the meeting loves and wants what is best for your child. You and the teachers are on the same team, and in most cases, have shared goals.
Come prepared with questions and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask them. Remember, your child’s teachers have spent a lot of time getting to know your child, assessing specific skills, and preparing for the conference. They are ready to answer your questions and they don’t expect you to be experts in child development (even though some of our parents may be). Your teachers will also let you know if they need more time to observe or allow your child to develop before they answer your question. If you have specific questions you would like to know the answer to during conference time (e.g., applying out, behavioral concerns), email or call the teacher before-hand to let them know what those questions are. This gives them time to make sure they are prepared an can answer them.
Don’t feel you have only this time to communicate with your teacher and that it must all be crammed into this tiny time slot. If you have a specific goal for the conference, make sure you cover it. Any other items you remember later or can not fit in can always be emailed, phoned in, or asked in a meeting scheduled for a later time. Help the teachers stay on time. Nothing makes a conference less productive than starting late and rushing it.
Finally, if the teachers discuss with you anything you need additional information to process, please set up a meeting with them or me for further discussion. We have a wealth of information ready to share with our parents, and lots of ideas on how to follow through on teacher suggestions.
If you have any other questions, or would like more information about having productive conferences with your child’s teachers, please let me know.