Parent-Teacher Conferences

          Many preschool teachers feel that they see and talk with their children’s parents on a daily basis and that the children are just in preschool, it is not necessary to have a parent-teacher conference.  Some teachers and parents parent-teacher conference as a meeting to discuss the negative behavior of the child and this does not have a positive feeling attached to it.  There are several important reasons to have a parent-teacher conference for children of any age for the following reasons:

1.     To examine developmental progress: 

This will provide an opportunity for the parents and teachers to discuss about the developmental accomplishments of the child as a whole.  Daily conversations of the child’s feats may not accomplish the same thing as an in depth discussion about the individual achievements of the child.

 2.     Quality time with parents and teachers:

Daily conversations with the parent/teacher may not be done in a private setting.  A parent teacher conference setting provides an opportunity for the parents and teachers to discuss issues in a private setting where they can spend quality time with each other discussing the child and the family.  The quality time with each other will also facilitate the understanding of the child’s growth and progress and enable the parties involved in setting up future goals for the child.  Sometimes the conference can also serve as a platform for the teachers to explain to the parents the processes involved in teaching a child, which might result in the parents having a renewed respect for the teacher!

 Preparing for a Successful Conference:

1.     Detail the purpose of the conference:  Nobody wants to go into a conference or a meeting unprepared, so it is imperative you inform the parents about the purpose of the conference so they can be prepared for it.

2.     Schedule a block of time:  Make sure the time block you have set aside for the parent is uninterrupted.  Frequent interruptions may hamper the flow and focus of the conference.  Some teachers use a sign-up sheet and request the parents to sign up for the time slot that best suits them.  I have also made it known to the parents that I will be willing to meet with them at other times if the time slots is not convenient to them.

3.     Reserve a private location:  If the children are going to be in your class during the conference times, be sure to reserve a space in your building that is private and quiet.

4.     Plan the issues/goals to be discussed: Make a brief outline of the issues you want to discuss with each of the parents.  This might include your report of the developmental progress of the child, concerns you might have, concerns the parents might have.  Each of your comments should be substantiated with adequate evidence that is meaningful to the parents.  Some schools also encourage the parents to come to the conferences with their list of questions and concerns.

5.     Initial steps:  The first and foremost thing that a teacher has to do in a parent teacher conference is to make the parent feel comfortable and at ease.  Then you always begin with the positives first.  Then you could ease into the touchy issues.  Frequently during the conference invite the parents to ask any questions that they might have.  The conference should be a two-way communication versus you reading off from your report. 

6.     Finally summarize for the parent the conversation you just had to make sure both of you are on the same page.


Issues to Avoid in a Successful Conference:

1.     Avoid portraying yourself as an expert and using technical terms to describe the child.  Use terms that is comprehensible by the parents

2.     Avoid negative evaluations, and giving readymade advice to “fix the problem. 

3.     Avoid inappropriate unprofessional conversation about other teachers or parents.