Meeting with your child's teacher is often an unnerving situation for parents. It may be due to the bringing back bad memories of their own school career or it may be simply the fear of learning their 'perfect angel' isn't so perfect during the school day.

Teachers typically have a spectrum of parents to deal with. There are those who are so involved in their child's academic and social lives, they leave little room for breathing. At the other end of the spectrum, there are the parents who are not remotely involved in their child's academic career, and it's easier to pull teeth than to get those parent types to communicate on any level.

Without a parent's involvement in education, children will not benefit effectively from schooling. They need the support of their parents in every way, even during high school years. The only way to ensure you are doing all you can to promote education in your child's life is to be involved and leave an open line of communication with your child's teachers.

A parent-teacher conference is a prime opportunity to understand what your child is learning, how your child is coping, and how you can be an active participant on an appropriate level. Getting the most out of a parent-teacher conference requires a bit of preparation.

Here are some tips for achieving a successful conference with your child's teacher:

Mark It on the Calendar

A lot of parents miss out on the conference night, citing work or other obligations. As soon as you know the date and time, mark it on your calendar and make it a priority to have at least one parent attend.

If you genuinely cannot make the date because of work schedules or a prior commitment, contact the teacher immediately and set up a one-on-one appointment at another time. Most teachers are happy to accommodate your schedule if you show a willingness to be involved. If you keep putting off the phone call or email, you'll likely never follow through.

Write Down Concerns and Questions

Each day your child comes home, ask his about his day. Younger kids will be happy to gush about what happened at recess and lunch, but ask questions about what they learned, as well. Older students may be more reluctant to spill details, but making the effort demonstrates your interest.

As you learn more about what your child's day entails, you may have some questions or concerns your kids can't clarify. Make notes about what you want to know more about and keep a running list to prepare for the conference. If you have any immediate concerns, contact the teacher right away and discuss your concerns. A teacher can't help if they don't realize there is a concern.

Show Up Early

Depending on how your school organizes a parent-teacher evening, it is likely your child's teacher will be meeting with 20 or more parents in one night. Make sure you show up early. If other parents don't make their appointment, you may get some extra face time with the teacher and help keep the time slots moving right along.

Discuss Expectations

Don't be afraid to have a frank conversation with the teacher about your expectations for communication. The more information you can provide a teacher, the more likely they will meet or exceed your expectations. For instance, let the teacher know how you can be reached at any time (phone, email) and that you prefer contact about anything concerning your child.

While a busy teacher may not be about to email you every minute of the day, you can at least expect they will let you know when they have concerns or if your child has been acting outside of the norm. If there are any situations a teacher should be aware of, be sure to let them know.

Really Listen to the Evaluation

There are no perfect children, so you need to come prepared to hear the good and the bad. A teacher should be able to provide you with an overview of both strengths and weaknesses that they have observed in your child. Parents who want to go on the defensive are not going to help anyone; do your best to listen quietly, don't interrupt, and work with the teacher to help improve your child's situation.

Teacher Concerns

After meeting with a teacher, there is a chance you may have specific concerns about the teacher. Perhaps they seemed rushed or your gut feelings were telling you something was off. Maybe your child has expressed their own concerns about the teacher and after meeting with him, you feel your child is justified.

If you feel there are issues concerning the teacher, remain professional and polite during the conference. Afterwards, contact the principal or other school authority and arrange an appointment to discuss your concerns. Don't involve your child directly in discussing a teacher negatively. Work to settle the matter through the proper chain of command.

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