U.S. Department of Education
Office of Educational Research and Improvement
Q: When should I talk with my child's teacher?
Early and often. Contact the teacher at the beginning of the year or as soon as you can. Get acquainted and show your interest.
Let teachers kow what they need to know about your child. If your child has special needs, make these known right from the beginning.
If you notice a big change in your child's behavior or attitude, contact the teacher immediately.
The teacher should tell you before the end of a grading period if your child is having trouble; keeping parents informed is an important function of the school.
Remember, parents and teachers work together to help children want to learn and to help them gain self-confidence and self-discipline.
Q: How do I get the most out of parent-teacher conferences?
Be prepared to listen as well as to talk. It helps to write out questions before you leave home. Also jot down what you want to tell the teacher. Be prepared to take notes during the conference and ask for an explanation if you don't understand something.
In conferences, the teacher should offer specific details about your child's work and progress. If your child has already received some grades, ask what went into them. Ask how your child is being evaluated.
Discuss your child's talents, skills, hobbies, study habits, and any special sensitivities such as concern about weight or speech difficulties.
Tell the teacher if you think your child needs special help. Tell the teacher about any special family situations, such as a new baby, an illness, or a recent or upcoming move. It is important to tell the teacher about things in your children's lives that might affect their ability to learn.
Ask about specific ways to help your child at home. Try to have an open mind.
At home, think about what the teacher has said and then follow up. If the teacher has told you your child needs to improve in certain areas, check back in a few weeks to see how things are going.
Parents and teachers are partners in helping children.
Q: What if I don't have time to volunteer as much as I would like?
Even if you can't volunteer to do work at the school building, you can help your child learn when you are at home. The key question is, "What can every parent do at home, easily and in a few minutes a day, to reinforce and extend what the school is doing?" This is the involvement that every family can and must provide.
The schools also need to take steps so parents feel good about what they're doing at home and know they are helping.
What we as parents need to care about is involving ourselves in our children's education outside of school.
Remember, you can encourage your child to work hard. You can give your child the power to succeed in school.
Table of Contents
Parents and Schools
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