As a parent or a grandparent today, your memory of a parent-teacher conference may involve a time when you got in trouble in school. In past generations, teachers used parent-teacher conferences as an opportunity to tell families that their children were in trouble or their children were falling behind in school. That is no longer the case. Now, parent-teacher conferences are used as one of the main communication methods between teachers and the family! They are a vital part of a successful education program. High quality early childhood education programs, with the assistance of parent-teacher conferences, invite families to actively take part in decision-making opportunities concerning their children’s education. Programs and families collaborate in establishing goals for children’s education and learning both at home and at school.
Many parents often ask what will be discussed at a parent-teacher conference for a young child. Here are some of the topics that your child’s teacher may cover:
What to Ask at a Parent-Teacher Conference
Although conferences may be limited in time, there are a few items that it is important to ask about when your family has individual time with the teacher. If the teacher does not cover these topics, here are a few things to ask about:
Occasionally families will be surprised by information that they receive in a conference because it does not match what they are seeing in the home environment. The major variable for children between the home and school environment is the social setting with numerous children. A child that does well when he or she has the family’s full attention at home (or even shares attention with one or two siblings) may show very different behavior when he or she must share attention with seven or more peers in the classroom setting. Parents do not need to be disheartened by this information. Teachers have a wide variety of resources that can assist your child in any area with which he or she is struggling. If a child is struggling with a mild issue, it could be as simple as the family and the classroom teachers collaborating to make sure they are addressing the situation the same in the home and the school environment. If the family has a greater concern, then the teacher can assist the family with starting the referral process with a pediatrician or local specialist for therapy support in the area of concern. The main goal is to make sure that each child is working to his or her full potential so that he or she will be as prepared as possible to enter Kindergarten.
Infants and Toddlers
Families frequently ask if it is still important to have a parent-teacher conference if the child is an infant or toddler. It is just as essential (if not more so) to meet with the teachers when a child is in the infant room as when the child is in preschool. The point of the conference is to share information between the teachers and the family. During an infant/toddler conference, the following information needs to be shared:
Dr. Sarah Vanover has been working in the field of early childhood education for over 22 years and has had the opportunity to be a teacher, a director, and a trainer for other early childhood educators. She has a passion for making sure that children with special needs receive high-quality early care and education.