Stop subscribing to the taboo that parent-teacher conferences are no place for a child and learn how you can involve your child in ways that will inspire leadership, self-discipline, and open communication.
You look at the calendar and see that it's less than a week away - the dreaded parent-teacher conference. Whether you're expecting a good or a ''bad'' report from your child's teachers, the entire process may feel draining and occasionally unproductive. You leave work, rush to the school, make small talk with your child's teachers, view a few graded assignments, go home, chastise or praise your child and then repeat the same ritual next semester. By involving your child in parent-teacher conferences, you're also empowering them to take full responsibility for their grades and education.
Let Your Child Take the Lead
Traditionally parents ask the questions during parent-teacher conferences, with students taking a backseat in the process. Instead, allow your child to initiate the introductions with their teachers and tell you what they're learning, as well as share their challenges. In this situation, similar to a flipped classroom, you'll still function as an active participant while assuming more of an observatory rather than a lead role. Help your child to understand that this is an opportunity for them to speak one-on-one with their teachers, ideally before the parent-teacher conference, so they have time to prepare.
Engage in Some Pre-Conference Role Reversing
Your child may feel anxious at the thought of being involved in the parent-teacher conference, particularly if they've received some poor behavioral reports in the past. In this case, engaging in some role reversal or play activities with your child may help to break the ice, while helping them to understand how their behavior affects others.
For example, reenact a recent incident wherein your child misbehaved, but have your child play the teacher or the parent while you play the part of the student. Break down the sequence of events as the ''child'' and ''teacher/parent'' share their thoughts and feelings throughout the process. The goal here is for both parties to gain a new perspective that may better meet the needs of your child.
Allow Your Child to Come Up with Solutions
It may sound risky, but giving your child the power to develop solutions, even punishments, provides them with authority over their actions. If your child continuously turns in late assignments or speaks out of turn during class, have them develop a corrective action plan with their teacher. This approach places your child and not their problem at the center of the discussion. Younger children may have difficulty with problem-solving and therefore require guidance, whereas older children should be able to identify solutions that challenge their decision-making abilities.
Have Your Child Write a Letter
Some parent-teacher conference situations aren't an appropriate or suitable venue for your child. If so, have your child write a letter to their teachers.
A letter is a simple way for your child to show gratitude or to open the lines of communication between student and teacher. For example, the content of the message may range from a thank you or an apology letter for recent misbehavior to general thoughts, questions, and feedback. Most of all, it's a way to involve your child in the conference process without making anyone uncomfortable. Your child will feel that they have a voice and their teacher will appreciate the effort.
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