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Conferences are usually 15- to 20-minute conversations with the teacher and classroom aides about your child's progress and classroom behavior. Most schools schedule two or three conferences a year. The meetings are rarely mandatory, but they can be extraordinarily helpful.
Be prepared to hear an honest report of your child's behavior and progress. A good teacher will talk about your child's strengths and weaknesses and suggest ways to meet learning goals.
There are usually three parts to these meetings:
1. The teacher will report on your child's academic and social progress in school. Many teachers will have a portfolio of your child's work assembled to share with you. Some schools require that teachers fill out forms describing your child's progress in specific subject areas, such as math and reading, and summarizing his social and emotional adjustment. She will probably have specific anecdotes ready to illustrate her points; if she doesn't, ask her to relate some. Ask her to clarify anything she says that you don't understand, particularly if she uses confusing jargon about curriculum or teaching standards.
2. You'll share your own perspectives on or concerns about your child's progress. Perhaps he's reluctant to go to school in the morning, or maybe you disagree with the teacher's homework policy. It's a good idea to come prepared with a list of questions that cover all aspects of your child's development: what he's learning, how he's socializing with others, and how he's coping with his feelings.
3. Talk about ways to improve communication between school and home, and ways to work together to address any particular problems or concerns your child is having. For example, if your child is struggling with reading, the teacher may suggest some fun activities to do at home to boost his competence.
If an issue comes up that needs more in-depth discussion, schedule another meeting at a mutually convenient time. Most teachers welcome your involvement.