Prepare for conferences

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

Parent-teacher conferences are coming up for Suffolk Public Schools students on Friday.

The conferences, which will occur between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., are a chance for teachers and parents to work together to help improve students’ academic progress. Teachers also will distribute report cards at the meetings.

Superintendent Milton Liverman said the meetings are important, even if parents think their children are doing well.

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“It’s a time to establish a line of communication so the teacher would feel comfortable contacting me, even if there’s not a problem,” Liverman said. ”Parents and teachers ought to be looking to build partnerships.”

Although the conferences are not mandatory, every parent should make an effort to go, even if they are busy, Liverman said. If they absolutely cannot come, they should schedule a conference soon.

“Everybody’s busy, but what’s more important than talking about your kid?” Liverman said.

To get the most out of the conferences for both yourself and your child, it helps if both the parents and teacher come prepared. Suffolk Public Schools recommends the following tips for parents:

Review your child’s school work and progress reports.

Talk to your child ahead of time. Find out if there’s anything your child would like you to discuss with the teacher.

Note anything that may be affecting your child’s behavior or performance – a change in routine, parents’ divorce, death of a close relative or pet, and the like.

Make a list of questions or concerns you want to bring up. Don’t rely on memory.

Write to the teacher ahead of time, to help him or her prepare.

Arrange for both parents to attend and for the children to stay with a babysitter, if possible.

Ask your child about all aspects of school – their subjects, homework, teachers, fellow students and environment.

Arrive at the conference on time.

Remain calm, even if you disagree with something.

Raise your most important concerns first.

Avoid asking questions that can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no.”

Develop an action plan with the teacher to address concerns you have.

Involve your child after the conference. Ask him to help address concerns that were discussed.

Continue to be involved by staying in touch with the teacher, attending school activities and volunteering at the school.