Friday, November 13, 2009

Making Parent-Teacher Conferences Work: Tips For Success

(NAPSI)-For many busy moms and dads, parent-teacher conferences may be the only chance to meet with their children's teachers.

"Just as parents encourage their children to prepare for a test, the same principle applies to parent-teacher conferences," said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association (NEA). "To maximize the benefits of parent-teacher conferences, parents need to do their homework before meeting with teacher."

NEA offers these tips to parents:

Prepare yourself by asking key questions. Write down the answers to the following:

• What concerns do you have about your child's academic progress or behavior?

• What questions do you have about the school, its curriculum, programs and procedures?

• Does your child have any health problems that might affect his or her behavior and/or academic progress?

Prepare questions for the teacher. Don't be afraid to engage in a frank conversation with your child's teacher. Good questions to ask the teacher include:

• How is my child doing in your class?

• Is my child working up to his or her ability? Where could my child use improvement?

• What resources are available if my child needs extra help?

• What can we do at home to support what you are doing in the classroom?

Know expectations. Having clear guidelines of parent, teacher and student responsibilities will help set the stage for academic success. Ask which kinds of evaluation methods and tests will be used to determine your child's aptitude and progress.

Plot a timeline. Ask about important assignments and upcoming big projects. Confirm corresponding due dates so nothing takes you by surprise.

Keep in touch. Exchange phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Find out if the teacher has a classroom Web site or other means of communication to obtain important announcements, homework assignments and deadlines.

"When parents go into the meeting prepared, it can make all the difference for a winning conference between parent and teacher," said Van Roekel.

For more information or to obtain a copy of "A Parent's Guide," NEA's 10-part brochure series, go to or call (800) 717-9790.

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