It’s card-giving season – report cards, that is. By now your child would have already received his report card, which means an opportunity to meet with his teachers anew. If you’ve never been to a Parent-Teacher Conference (PTC), you’re probably wondering what questions to ask and how you could make such a meeting productive. You also want to get to know the facts and hear them from no one else but your child’s teacher, who plays a big role in your child’s academic development.
According to Therese Pelias, a professor from the Miriam College of Child Development and Education, “Parent-Teacher Conferences are good opportunities to maximize this partnership.” Ms. Pelias further explains that this should be a two-way meeting, where parents are open to receiving feedback and the teachers, willing to help them with their concerns. The parent-teacher relationship that is built on partnership prevents issues of differences from becoming issues of conflicts. In this setting, says author Ethel Seiderman, “parents are respected and honored as the major influence in their child’s life” while staff (or teachers) view their role as “supportive and facilitative, complimentary to the family’s goals and aspirations…[they] also appreciate that parents are primary and lifetime teachers”.
A Parent-Teacher Conference can provide great benefits most especially for your child. Wright, Stegelin and Hartle (2007) noted that when parents are involved in valuable roles in the school, “children demonstrate heightened achievement scores, perform better in school, stay in school longer, and attend better schools” (p.61).
Rica Santos, a kindergarten teacher from the University of the Philippines Integrated School shares that, “children know if their parents went to the PTC or not. Just the mere presence of their parents in school boosts their confidence and makes them feel loved”.
Read on to know the valuable questions that you must ask your child’s teacher in order to make the most out of your parent-teacher conference.
1. How is my child? Asst. Prof. Dulce P. Abutal, a family life and child development specialist from the University of the Philippines Diliman, pointed out that a mom should ask about her child’s adjustment to school, particularly during the first PTC. Ms. Pelias added that the PTC is the venue for “mothers to get to know their children more through the eyes of the teacher”. Ms. Marie Rose Yuzon, assistant principal of Miriam College Child Study Center, explains that it is important that a mom should find out about her child’s disposition in school and attitude towards learning.
2. What are my child’s interests? Finding out about the activities that your child enjoys doing in school is essential in understanding his or her uniqueness even more. Abutal advises moms to ask not only what their child enjoys doing but also about his or her least liked activities. Santos adds that moms should take note of her child’s strengths, and the areas where he or she needs most help with.
3. How is my child doing in all areas of development? Cha Olavidez Osorio, a preschool teacher from Creative Explorers School for Children, points out that moms should “avoid being so concerned only about their child’s academic performance”; rather, they should also be interested with the child’s other areas of development such as the physical, social, emotional and aspects. She explains that these domains of development “are connected to each other to allow the child to grow up to be more independent and confident of himself”.
4. Who are my child’s friends? You placed your child in school not just to learn but also so he could develop social skills. Abutal notes that a mom should also learn about who her child’s friends are in school and how he interacts with his or her classmates. Doing so will help you give proper guidance to your child.
5. How does my child relate to others? According to Santos, “the school is different from the home environment. He or she may behave differently in school than when he is at home”. It is important that your child develops his or her social skills towards others because this will enable him or her to understand what it means to be part of a community. Yuzon adds that a mom should find out not only if her child gets along well with his or her peers but also with the adults in school such as the teachers and school staff.
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6. How is my child’s behavior? Yuzon stresses that it is important to be aware of how your child responds in class, if he is able to participate during activities, and if he is capable to listen as well as to follow directions.
7. Is there any area of concern that I should know about? Pelias points out that honesty and objectivity are essential in order to have a fruitful PTC, and thus it is necessary that you should be open to receive any feedback and observation, knowing full well that this is done with the teacher’s best interest in mind.
8. Can you share anecdotes about my child? Osorio shares that it is their practice in school to let the parents know stories about their children. Likewise, Santos recommends that moms should ask about anecdotes in class because “sometimes, there are funny experiences and sometimes there are surprising stories”. The more stories you know about your child, the more you will know your child and appreciate your child better.
9. May I see my child’s portfolio? According to Yuzon, a mom should request to look at her child’s portfolio because this will showcase what the child has done and what his/her progress is. A porfolio is a collection of your child’s projects in class, which you can use as a starting point to know more about your child’s development.
10. What can I do to help? Santos reminds us that a child’s education is not dependent entirely on the teacher; rather, parents have an equally important – if not bigger - obligation to help in the child’s learning. She suggests that moms ask about how she can help in order to make her child’s school experience better. In addition to this, Yuzon points out that moms should find out the specific things she could do at home in order to develop age-appropriate skills in a fun way.
The most important reminder in maximizing your child’s parent teacher conference is making time for it. No matter how busy you are, your attendance to your child’s PTC is one way of showing your commitment and care for your child’s positive development because, as Osorio puts it, "the PTC is all about your child."
Photo from tammysteachings.com
References: Seiderman, E. (1997). Parent/Staff Partnerships. Child Care Information Exchange, 113, 47-49. Wright, K., Stegelin, D., & Hartle, L., (2007). Building family, school, and community partnerships. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall.