Column,  Education,  Family

Parent-teacher conference tips

By Jane Kingsu-Cheng

This school year is an extra busy one for me, with two of our boys already going to big school, and our youngest daughter in pre-Kinder. Getting organized and making sure they do not forget anything, and not mixing up our schedules and assignments can be nerve wracking. But I’ll talk about how I deal with this in my next column.

Last Wednesday was the boys’ scheduled second quarter Parent-Teacher-Conference (PTC). While waiting for my turn, I realized there are only a few articles that talk about prepping a parent for it. Here are some of my personal learnings:

1. PTC is important.

Make time for it. Teachers spend more hours with our children, and we need to know how they are in school through the eyes of these teachers. My first PTC was an eye opener. The class adviser shared quite a few stories about my boys that helped me take better care of them at home. Consistency is the key to helping our kids establish good study habits and interpersonal skills. Familial support is also needed for their developmental skills.  

2. Review the report card and talk to your child about it.

Ask your child if he is having any problems in school. His grades might be good, but he could be having difficulty when it comes to social skills. He might be getting bullied, though it isn’t stated in the report. If his grades are low, review his worksheets and try to figure out what went wrong. Ask him why, in a loving and concerned manner. He could have gotten a low grade because his seatmate was noisy and he couldn’t hear what the teacher is saying. There are so many scenarios, and it is our job to help them figure out what’s wrong. Probe as much as you can, but stop when you know your child isn’t ready to open up yet.

3. Jot them down.

Make a list of all the questions you want to ask the teacher, so you don’t miss out on anything. I write down all the keywords. This way, I don’t forget what I need to discuss with our children and confirm with them what their teachers have observed.

4. Be open-minded and cooperative.

Always be ready to hear the worst. At the same time, always be receptive to working together to come up with solutions to help our children reach their full potential. Being in denial only hampers their growth. The earlier we address our children’s problems, the earlier we can solve and support them in their path to overcoming these developmental hurdles.

An example would be our first born always being late. The teacher and I figured out that he takes a while to prepare for absolutely anything, which means it takes him longer to get to school from our drop-off point. By the time he gets to class, the school bell has already rung and he doesn’t have enough time to fix his locker and prepare his books for the morning subjects. It’s not his fault. It’s just his personality. So, his adviser and I agreed on two counts: we will bring him to school earlier, and his adviser will make sure to update me if this still doesn’t work and we need to find another solution. True enough, his adviser was right. Problem solved!

5. Get regular updates.

The school provided us with a notebook where we can communicate with the teachers. I have gotten quite a few notes with regards to  incidents that needed to be addressed at home. They also provided us with a class representative and a level representative, and e-mail addresses of the teachers for better communication. All of these have been a great help to better understanding the children’s needs.

And lastly, if you can’t make it, ask for another schedule. I remember not being able to make it to our youngest daughter’s PTC. I requested for another date, and we were able to find another day for me to go and discuss with her adviser. So do not be afraid to ask; there’s no harm in doing so. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child, and that village includes the teachers.

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