Parent-Teacher Conference Tips

Parents- I found this article from NAESP in my files and wanted to share it with you.  Hope you find it helpful! – Kate

     The essential foundation of school-community cooperation has always been-and always will be- the parent-school partnership.  Nobody knows your child as well as you do.  This is why taking part in parent-teacher conferences is one of the most important ways you can help your child succeed in school.

     Conferences help you monitor your child’s progress at school.  They help you nip problems in the bud.  They provide an opportunity to make plans for students with special needs.  They help parents truly get acquainted with the school and the teacher.

     Similarly, conferences help teachers understand the whole child and develop individualized instruction.  The teacher becomes better able to suggest effective ways parents can help students.  In short, the parent and the teacher form a trust-building partnership.  The resulting home-school alliance helps the child build self-esteem and learn to value doing well in school.

    Here are some tips on how to make the most of your conferences with your teacher:

  • Plan the time.  For working parents and those with young children it can be tough to find time for conferences.  One answer might lie in using vacation time.  Or perhaps your employer will let you make up the time or allow a coworker to cover for you.  If necessary, swap babysitting favors with a friend.  If you totally run out of possibilities and have absolutely no alternative, arrange a telephone conference.
  • Both parents should attend, or at least take turns attending, so the child feels the support of both parents.  Remarried parents might invite their new spouses to help foster a blended family unity.  It is helpful if noncustodial or shared parents participate, especially if the child spends time in both homes.  If necessary, the school will hold two separate conferences.
  • Involve your child.  Ask your child if he or she wants you to discuss something special at the meeting.  Find out what your child likes and dislikes most about school, what is easy and what is hard, and how school could be better.  (And remember to share the results of the meeting, good and bad, with your child.)
  • Make a list of questions.  jot down matters you want to ask the teacher about:  How does your child get along with other students?  Participate in class?  Follow rules?  What are his or her strengths and weaknesses?  Is progress taking place, and is it steady?  Does the teacher work with the child in special ways?  How can you help?
  • Share information.  Tell the teacher about any major events at home (positive or negative), such as a new baby…what seems to be the development of a medical condition…the death of a relative or favorite pet…separation or divorce or remarriage…a job change…a grandparent or step-siblings moving into the home…money problems.  The teacher will treat the information confidentially and will be able to respond appropriately to your child when these events have an impact at school-which they usually do!
  • Take a cooperative attitude.  Your child benefits from knowing his teacher and parents are working together to help him succeed.  If your child has a serious problem at school (academic or social), it is imperative to participate in the meeting in a calm manner.  If tempers flare, neither you nor the teacher can concentrate on developing a joint plan of action to solve your child’s problems.  If the problems are not resolved to your satisfaction, you may want to schedule a follow-up meeting with staff specialists or the principal.
  • Impromptu conferences can help, too.  Make appointments for intermittent meetings if a problem suddenly surfaces.  A teacher may also request an intermediate visit.  Many problems can be solved if they are addressed immediately.  Impromptu meetings, coupled with regular grading-period visits, help teacher, parent, and student stay on the right track.

Reading Together

     Help your child become a lifelong reader.  Research tells us that children learn to read by practicing.  Reading is the primary way a child gains a wide vocabulary and is highly related to success in every academic area.  I recommend that your child read aloud a minimum of 15 minutes per day.  In addition, please read to your child for at least another 10 minutes each day.  Hopefully, the time reading at home will be even more than this minimum.  Included below are some tips on how to make the most of your time reading together.

  • Pick a time when you can devote your full attention to your child.  It may be before dinner, during bath time, or at bedtime; these uninterrupted few minutes are important.
  • Take time to talk about the cover of the book before you start to read.  Point out the author and the illustrator and discuss what those terms mean.  Ask your child to predict what the story is about on the basis of the cover illustration and refer back to those predictions as you read.
  • Be dramatic!  The more enthusiasm you display, the more your child will enjoy the book.
  • Help your child connect print to speech by pointing to words in the text as you read.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about the story and take time to ask questions as you read.
  • When you finish reading, talk about the story.  Then ask your child to tell the story in his or her own words.
  • Read your child’s favorite books over and over.  Studies show that each time a child listens to the same story, new kinds of learning take place.  When your child knows the book by heart, let him “read” it to you.
  • Most importantly, enjoy this special activity.  Reading together will become a happy, comfortable routine that will open the door to discussions about your child’s thoughts and concerns.

special thanks to CTP; I Can Read!  I Can Write! for these tips

 

Encouraging Writers

     I’ve compiled a list of activities your child will enjoy doing at home to encourage writing and reinforce lessons taught at school.  Before beginning you may consider giving your child a special gift, a writing box.  A writing box is a container filled with writing supplies that capture the interest of a first grader.  Choose a container big enough to hold a lot of goodies, but small enough for your child to carry easily. Decorate an old suitcase, briefcase, 16 qt plastic box, tackle box, or large shoe box.  The contents of the writing box might include: paper (various sizes and colors), notebook, colored pencils, markers, whiteboard & dry erase markers, stickers, blank books, envelopes, post its, list of family & friends names.

     Treat any attempt at writing as special!  Don’t worry if all words are not spelled correctly.  You will see your child’s writing improve as we learn new words and print conventions during first grade.  If necessary, use a post-it note to translate your child’s message and stick it on the back of letters to family.  Most importantly, have fun together!

Writing Activities for Home

  • Write a note to our child and put it in a place it will be seen.  Surprise them with a note under their pillow or taped to the bathroom mirror!  Ask for a written reply.
  • Write a letter to a friend or relative in a different city.  This will be especially exciting if your child receives a letter in response.
  • Hang a family message board where children will see the importance of giving and receiving messages.
  • Make birthday cards to give to friends and family.
  • Glue a 4X6 photo to an index card to make your own personal postcard.  Have your child write a caption and address of family or friend.  Send U.S. mail using the less expensive post card stamp.
  • Encourage you child to create labels for toy bins and shelves at home.
  • Check out the links on the sidebar for sites to make your own comics & post cards
  • Write thank you cards for birthday and holiday gifts.
  • Write secret messages using invisible ink.  Click the picture below to see recipes.

Celebrate Your First Grader

First grade is hard work!  We use every minute of our time together to challenge our minds.  It is important to take a few minutes each day to praise your child for their effort and celebrate their successes as a learner.  Below are some ideas I’ve used with my own family.  I would love to add your good ideas to the list- just leave a comment below to share!

  • Put a smile on your child’s face by hiding a note inside their lunchbox.  Surprise your pre-reader by including a simple drawing with many X’s & O’s or challenge readers with easy riddles and knock-knock jokes.
  • Celebrate progress reports and report cards with a special meal or outing.  Focus on the effort put forth, not the letter grade.  Remember, every child learns at their own pace.
  • Brag about your child!  Call a family member and tell them about your child’s progress and good deeds.  Hearing you say something positive to others will fill your child with pride!
  • Display their work!  Sure it may not be Picasso and that worksheet has eraser smudges, but it is evidence of your first grader’s success.  Designate a place to display these proud artifacts for all to enjoy.
  • Save the really special pieces.  Use a hanging file box to keep treasured work from their school years.  One file per grade filled with important class work papers and photos of oversize projects.  Glue a school picture to the front and have them write their name/age/grade on an index card to label each file.  Periodically, look through the file boxes together.  Your child will love remembering their younger school years and the files are a good reminder that with patience and hard work they can meet the challenges of the classroom.
  • 101 WAYS TO SAY YOU’RE GREAT:  Wow…Way to go…Super…You’re Special…Outstanding…Excellent…Great…Good…Neat O…Remarkable…I Knew You Could Do It…I’m Proud of You…Fantastic…Bravo…Superstar…Nice Work…You’re on Top of It…Beautiful…Now You’re Flying…You’re Catching On…Dynamite…That’s Incredible…How Extraordinary…Far Out…Outstanding Performance…I can’t get over it…Phenomenal…You’ve Got It…Superb…Cool…Your work is out of sight…Your project is first rate…You’ve outdone yourself…Thumbs Up…You’re a good friend…You came through…Terrific…You tried hard…Your help counts…You made it happen…It couldn’t be better…You’re a real trooper…Fabulous…Bravo…Exceptional..You’re unique…Awesome…Breathtaking..The time you put in really shows…You’re a great example to others…Keep up the good work…I knew you had it in you…It’s everything I hoped for…You should be proud of yourself..What an imagination…You made the difference..Well Done…You’re sensational…Very Good…A+ Work…Super Job…Take a bow…You figured it out…How artistic.. Hooray for you…You’re a joy…You are so thoughtful…You’re amazing…You’re getting there…What a great idea…You deserve a hug…Thanks for trying…You’ve made great progress…You’re a big help…You’re neat…You’ve got what it takes…You’re #1…You’re a shining star…You can be trusted…Very impressive…You’re sharp…You’re a winner…Hot Dog…Spectacular…You’re so kind…You’ve really grown up…What a great listener…Great discovery…You’ve earned my respect…You’re A-Okay…You’re a great kid…How original…You’re a champ…You’re a pleasure to know…What a genius…You’re very talented..You’re the greatest…You’re super…Right on target…You’re a keeper…I LOVE YOU! 

Follow the Yellow Brick Road…..

TO A SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL YEAR

  • Take time to talk about school and everyday events with your child.  Ask your child to tell you their “high/low” (best and worst part) of the school day.
  • Get to know your child’s friends.  Ask about who they played with at recess or sat with at lunch.  Arrange for play time with classmates at your home or meet at the playground.
  • Check assignments nightly.  Show genuine interest in the homework.  This sends the message that education is important and encourages your child to do well.
  • Provide a quiet study area with needed supplies.  (pencils, glue sticks, markers, scissors, pencil sharpener)
  • Set a routine for completing homework in the early evening.
  • Provide learning experiences outside of school.  Visit nature preserves, museums, libraries, zoos, and theaters.  Check out the links on the sidebar for activities happening around Chicago this month.
  • Monitor the TV programs your child watches.  TV can be educational and relaxing in the right amounts and at the right time.  Turn off the TV at meal times to facilitate conversations and healthy eating.
  • Help your child obtain a library card and visit the library often.  Listen to your child read and read to your child.
  • Encourage your child to write letters or send emails to friends and family.
  • Play board games together.  Games teach your child how to take turns, listen to others, be a good sport, and encourage critical thinking skills.
  • Be a good role model.  Let your child see you reading a variety of materials for different purposes.  Point out the many reasons you write in daily life.  Demonstrate friendship skills such as cooperation, sharing, listening to others, and talking about a problem.  When playing games be a gracious winner and a courteous loser.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if your child is unhappy at school.  I want everyone to love coming to first grade as much as I do and will try my best to help solve any problems that arise. 

Helping Your Reader

  Help your child unlock the mystery of reading with these helpful tips:

  • Select reading material that is of interest to your child.  A book about a favorite hobby will not only be good reading practice but be entertaining as well.
  • Choose a book where most of the words are known.  Many publishers print leveled reading books in a wide variety of popular interests.  A librarian can also help you select appropriate materials.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOUR CHILD IS DOING WELL….

  • Say, “Good for you.  I like the way you tried to work that out.”
  • Say, “That was a good try.  Yes, that word makes sense there.”
  • Say, “I like the way you looked at the letters to help yourself.”
  • Say, “I like the way you went back to the beginning of the sentence and tried that again.  That’s what good readers do.”
  • Say, “You are becoming a good reader!  I’m proud of you.”

WHEN YOUR CHILD IS STUCK…

  • Wait and see if they work it out.
  • Say, “Look at the letters. Try the sounds. “
  • Say, “Try that again.”
  • Read the sentence again and start the tricky word.
  • After 5 seconds tell the word.

WHEN YOUR CHILD MAKES A MISTAKE…

  • If the mistakes make sense, don’t worry about it for now.
  • If the mistake does not make sense, wait and see if your child will fix it.
  • Say, “Try that again”
  • Say, “Did that make sense?”
  • Say, ” Did what you read look right and sound right?”
  • Tell the correct response.