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Parent/Teacher Conferences - Beyond Academic Performance


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Insights and Ideas from Smart Love teachers and tutors on how to help your children have a successful school year!

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Often children's conferences are focused on their child's academic performance, but a child's social and emotional well-being are equally important components to your child's success in school. These are important topics that teachers will have insight into but may or may not address during their time with parents.


Academic Performance: Teachers often start the conference by showing test scores and other grades and depending upon how your child is performing, parents can get concerned if their child's performance isn't meeting expectations. It's important to remember that learning does not happen in a linear procession, but progresses at different rates. When parents are able to put an emphasis on effort, they provide a model that gives children agency over their success in school. Focusing on end results, like test scores and grades puts unnecessary pressure on children that can work to impede their enjoyment of learning and overall success in school.


Social Well-Being: Another important element of school success is the social component, or how children get along with and relate to their peers. Teachers will have keen insight into how your child interacts with others. While some of the information that teachers share with you may be surprising, keep in mind that it's normal for children to act differently in school than at home because they are learning how to navigate within social situations away from their parents. If the teacher does express concerns, parents can ask the teacher what they think is going on for your child with questions like, "Is there something that triggers this behavior?" "How long has this been going on?" Or, "What's been done to address this problem?" This information can give parents a better understanding of the stressors and triggers that their child is experiencing and provide for an opportunity for parents to connect with their child about their experience. For example, if your child's classroom seat is away from a friend's but next to a child whom they dislike, parents can use this information to empathize with how hard that must feel for their child. Rather than finding immediate solutions for your child, children benefit more when parents provide a model on how to manage and address their feelings.


Emotional Well-Being: Parents can also inquire about their child's behavior in the classroom, including their attitude, attentiveness, class participation, and adherence to classroom rules; these observations can reveal what is going on emotionally with your child. If your teacher notices your child has excessive anxiety or is being too hard on themselves after a setback (forgetting their homework, tripping up the stairs, etc.), parents can help their child while at home by modeling how to manage those subsequent emotions by responding kindly and with compassion. For example, a parent can say, "I see that you are upset that your video game isn't working, I know how much you like to play with it." Then listen to your child's feelings without trying to change or fix the problem - allow them to express and release all of their emotions before moving on. "I know we can't play your game until Mommy comes home to fix it, but would you like to play Uno with me in the meantime?" Then listen to see if there are other things that are on your child's mind. When parents are able to be present for their children, listen to their feelings without trying to fix the problem, and then offer their relationship to help them navigate to feeling better, they create a subconscious road map for their children on how to handle losses at school, so that they can move forward and continue with their learning.


Parental Involvement: Inquire about the teacher's expectations for your child's progress over the school year (academic performance, behavior, organization, peer relations, etc.) With this information parents can provide teachers insight into their child's strengths and areas of need while also promoting parent-teacher collaboration around specific support your child may need at home and in the classroom.


Sharing Conferences with Your Child: Parents do not need to tell their child everything they learned from the teacher. When you share the feedback with your child, remember to stay positive, share constructive feedback, and be encouraging. If there are concerns that need to be addressed - engage your child in a conversation, get their perspective, and be sure to empathize so that they feel understood. Then work together to find possible solutions. Prioritize a growth mindset by focusing on your child's effort and provide praise for often overlooked achievements, like keeping their backpack organized, asking for help, or turning away from conflictual friendships.


Strengthen your Relationship: Remember that parent/teacher conferences are a valuable opportunity to foster a collaborative partnership between you, your child, and their teacher. Approach the conversation with an open mind, a willingness to listen, and a focus on working together to support your child's growth and success. And remember that the best way parents can help their child succeed in school is by strengthening their relationship with their child as this increases their self-esteem and confidence.


If, however, you've noticed significant changes in your child's behavior at home, or if your child is continually struggling in school, reach out to their teacher and discuss whether or not to reach out to a professional for help.

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