Along with shorter days, crunchy leaves, and the breaking out of corduroys, the fall also brings with it another tradition: parent-teacher school conferences.
“Parent-teacher conferences are invaluable opportunities to gain first-hand feedback about your child’s academic performance and are occasions that should not be missed,” says Jacqueline Misla, YMCA of Greater New York, Senior Executive Director of Youth & Family programs. “Like any other important meeting, however, a certain amount of prep work should be involved.”
The Y is offering New York families ten tips to make the most of parent-teacher conferences this fall:
1.Define “vision of success”: In advance of the parent-teacher conference, work with your child to answer the questions “What would wild success look like this school year?” This can include any academic expectations, personal milestones (like making new friends or fundraising for a cause), and extracurricular activities (like joining a sports team or club).
2.Give-and-Take: Once “success” is defined, talk about what you both need to bring that vision to fruition. For example, your child may say that he/she needs help with math this year, or flexibility around weekday chores in order to participate in extracurricular activities. And parents might insist on being notified about school projects and due dates, as soon as their children know about them, to avoid the inevitable “I have to build a volcano by tomorrow!”
3.Prepare questions in advance: Prepare questions and talking points to discuss with your child’s teacher in advance, including any specific information you may have around how your child best learns.
4.Describe your vision: Share the vision that you and your child drafted for the school year. It is important that the teacher understand how you and your family define success.
5.Share insights and information: A parent’s willingness to share insights about their child—including any medical or behavioral diagnosis and/or other important family information—is invaluable to the teacher’s ability to provide the right learning environment for them.
6.Hear the positives and negatives: Ask the teacher for both positive feedback/ observations and areas that they believe your child has room for growth. Be an active listener and try to leave at the door any preconceptions you might have about your child.
7.Ask questions: Do not be a passive meeting participant! Ask the teacher if they feel strongly about any opportunities or activities (e.g., tutoring or extracurricular activities) that could help with your child’s performance, concentration, and/or success in school.
8.Frame the feedback: When sharing the teacher’s feedback with your child, it is important to frame the conversation in terms of “here’s what you are doing really well at and here are the areas where you have room for growth.”
9.Keep your child accountable: Continue to connect with your child throughout the school year, and revisit the vision of success and necessary support, to keep on target and keep you both accountable for the success of the child in and out of school.
10.Explore after-school and extracurricular options—starting with the Y!: Ask the teacher if he/she thinks there are any external opportunities and activities that could help with your child’s performance, concentration, and success at school—including the YMCA of Greater New York’s range of after-school programs and services that support youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
“Having a game plan can really help families get the most out of these all-important school year conferences,” says Ms. Misla.
_To learn more about how the Y supports after-school activity and academic enrichment, visit www.ymcanyc.org/greenpoint