It’s conference time for most private schools in the Dallas area. Often this is a parents’ first time to talk with their child’s teacher in depth about how the school year is going. The time you have with the teacher is precious, so it’s important to make the most of it. If you have the chance, take some time now and think about your child. What’s going well? What’s not? What progress do you see in reading, math, and writing? Does your child get along with peers? Has she made a friend in the class?
If you do have concerns, write them all down and try to identify the top two or three. If you have many more, you may not have time to address them. Some schools send parents a questionnaire to complete and return to the teacher prior to the conference, which gives teachers a chance in advance to think about and prepare to discuss your concerns.
It’s such a wonderful feeling to hear positive things about your child. If things are going well thus far, be grateful. Take note of any suggestions the teacher makes and consider acting on them for your child.
If your child is struggling, you may or may not be aware of it until now. Though it’s tough to hear comments that seem negative about your child, try not to get defensive. Getting angry, denying the problem, or making excuses for your child doesn’t engender help or compassion from the teacher. Try the best you can to stay open and hear what the issues are. I’ve been there and know how hard it is, trust me.
When the conference is over, take some time to process the information. You may need a day or two to get upset, vent to a friend, eat some chocolate, and feel better. Give yourself the time and then move on. The best thing you can do for your child is accept that something is going on and recognize that you need to take action. Does your child need testing? Ask around or call me for referrals. Does your child need extra work in a particular subject? Can her teacher work with her after school or do you need to hire a tutor for ongoing support? Is there a behavior problem? Have an age appropriate discussion with your child about what they are doing and what needs to change. Be willing to work with the teacher and enforce consequences at home.
Usually if there are serious problems, parents are aware before the conference. If not, I know it’s a painful shock. Follow my steps for processing the information from above. First, as stressed and upset as you may be, continue to love and show affection to your child. She is struggling with the situation as well and may feel helpless and hopeless. She needs your warmth and support.
Now, start considering your options. Try whatever the teacher has suggested, but recognize that the issues may require a school move. If your child needs a psycho-educational assessment to help untangle the problem, make the appointment. If your child may need a different school, start doing your research. Knowing the schools in our area is my specialty, so if you need help coming up with some options don’t hesitate to come see me. I will help you through this crisis.
© Eleanor Munson, PhD, 2011-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Eleanor Munson, PhD is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Munson, PhD with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.