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Five Questions That You Might Not Ask At Parent Teacher Conferences… But Should.

The conference appointment was made weeks ago, and the date is quickly approaching.  While most parents are not under the impression that their students are perfect, the anticipation of what teachers may reveal can be nerve-wracking.  You can count on receiving information about recent test scores, grades and benchmarks, but the following five questions will give you a more complete picture of how your child is doing at school.

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  1. Is my student engaged?

It’s important to know whether your student is paying attention, asking questions, and participating or if he is daydreaming, looking at the floor, and sleeping.   A lack of engagement affects all types of students, and it can be a strong indicator that something is wrong.  Is engagement a factor for your student who is struggling?  Are issues outside of school affecting your student’s ability to be involved in the classroom?   Is the material too challenging or too easy?   Is your student shutting down?  Knowing the level of engagement in class will help you determine other issues that will affect your student’s ability to perform in school.

  1. How is my student’s behavior?

If your student is causing significant problems in the classroom, then you may already have this answer.  For many parents, however, the teacher may not think to bring up the topic of behavior because it isn’t necessarily a major issue.   Is your student acting respectfully?  Is he following directions?  Is he wandering around the classroom and not staying in his seat?  Many students act differently at school than they do at home, and knowing what the teacher sees in the classroom gives parents the ability to deal with small issues before they become major ones.

  1. How does my child do socially?

School is about more than academics, and what a student is learning socially is essential to his development.   Is your student a good friend?  Does he socialize well?  Is he being kind to other students?  What we experience at home with friends and siblings is often different than what teachers witness at school, and we can help them develop strong social skills when we are aware of all of the pieces.

  1. What are our goals?

You may know exactly what you would like to see your student achieve, and the teacher may know exactly what she would like to see your student achieve.  The key is to make sure that those two visions look similar and are consistent with one another.  You are already discussing your student’s strengths and weaknesses, so this is an ideal time to discuss goals.  Being able to work on the same team and combining efforts will ensure significantly better results.

  1. What more can I do?

One of a teacher’s greatest frustrations is a lack of parental involvement and effort, and you should let your student’s teacher know that you want to be involved in your child’s education.  Most teachers will be able to give ideas and helpful strategies to use with your student, and you can make sure that you are reinforcing what your student is learning in the classroom.  Be sure to let the teacher know to please reach out to you if she thinks of anything else after you leave.