Rethinking the parent-teacher conference: 5 tips for a more effective meeting

16152006556_b06837688b_zFamily engagement is crucial in a child’s academic growth. However, productive communication between parents and teachers doesn’t happen overnight. Here are five tips from Knowledge Universe’s education team on how to use the parent-teacher conference to develop a deeper dialogue with families to support student success.

  1. Create a welcoming environment
    The first step to any successful home-school relationship is ensuring families feel welcomed. Teachers should use this opportunity to demonstrate their center’s service values in a meaningful way. They should also remember to always practice active listening and demonstrate respect for the families’ culture, language, and child- rearing preferences.
  2. Foster a two-way dialogue
    The parent-teacher conference is not only for families to learn about how their child is doing in school, but for teachers to learn more about their student. Take the opportunity to cultivate a deeper understanding about each student’s strengths, skills, and activities outside of school. Ask the family about their goals for their child. This information can help inform the teacher’s instructional techniques in the classroom.
  3. Paint a full picture with examples and assessments
    Teachers should be sure to provide examples of the child’s work along with the assessments to tell a clearer story about the child’s experiences and growth. Review the child’s work thoroughly with the family, highlighting strengths and special skills while also discussing any challenges. Be sure to offer to go over or repeat anything again, encouraging families to ask questions throughout the discussion.
  4. Seek solutions collaboratively
    Open, ongoing dialogue and collaboration between families and teachers is crucial in supporting a child’s academic growth. If any challenges or concerns do arise, teachers and parents should seek to resolve them together. Remember to share strategies used at school to support learning and to discuss similar activities families can try at home to resolve similar challenges.
  5. Celebrate milestones and plan for future growth
    Take a moment to celebrate the child’s strengths, successes, and accomplishments with the family. Emphasize that the parent-teacher conference is one part of an ongoing conversation. Discuss how you will check-in with parents about their child’s progress. Establishing clear lines of communication will help foster continued two-way dialogue and ultimately academic success.

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