Parent-teacher conferences at our school are this week and it has me thinking about ways that parents of children with speech and language delays can make the best of their parent teacher conferences. Here are some ideas that I have that can improve your relationship with your child’s teachers as well get you the information you need at conference time:
Parent Teacher Conferences #1: Invite your child’s speech-language pathologist
Talk to your child’s classroom teacher ahead of time and ask if his speech therapist (and any other specialists) will be able to attend the parent teacher conferences. If not, ask if there is a time you can reschedule to have the speech therapist there. If at all possible, it is very important to have your entire team present to make sure everyone is on the same page. Keep in mind that the speech therapists often serve a lot of children (sometimes up to 50-60 children!) so you may have to be flexible with your schedule in order to have that person there.
Parent Teacher Conferences #2: Ask for your child’s report card/progress note ahead of time
This will depend on your child’s school and team, but ask if it would be possible for you to get your child’s progress notes sent home before the meeting. Make sure you ask a couple of weeks before the scheduled conferences so they have plenty of time to write it. If your child’s team is able to do this, it will give you time to look everything over and write down any questions you have. This will also make parent teacher conferences go more smoothly since they won’t have to go over every bit of the note.
Parent Teacher Conferences #3: Choose two or three things that you want to focus on during the conference
These conferences are typically designed to be brief updates on what’s going on. You will not be able to talk about every aspect of your child’s schooling at this time. You will have time to do that during your child’s IEP meeting. Choose a few topics that you want to make sure to talk about and write them down ahead of time. You might want to know about your child’s social interactions with other kids, behavior incidents, or how speech therapy techniques are being carried over in the classroom. Choose two or three of these things as your main focuses for the parent teacher conferences.
Parent Teacher Conferences #4: Give the teacher a heads up about what you would like to talk about
No one likes to be surprised or feel like they’re being ambushed at a meeting. One way to make sure your child’s teacher doesn’t feel like you’re attacking her during the meeting is to give her a list of the things you would like to address during the meeting. This should be those 2-3 things you chose as your focus in step 3. Write them down or email them and let your child’s teacher or speech therapist know what you would like to talk about these things during the meeting. This will allow your child’s team to gather any samples or data they have about that topic ahead of time so they’re not having to shuffle through notes and piles during the meeting. This will also help your conference go smoothly and allow you more time to get through all of your questions in the amount of time you’re allotted.
Parent Teacher Conferences #5: Make sure to ask the teacher about what your child is doing well
It’s often easy to focus so heavily on the things your child is struggling with that you forget to talk about the positive! Ask your child’s teacher what she is doing well and make sure to praise your child later for that. Children in special education often have to focus a lot of their time on what is difficult for them. Be sure to build in some activities at home that allow your child to shine in what she does best! This will improve your child’s self-confidence and talking about it at your child’s conference will help to keep the meeting positive.
What other techniques have you used in the past to have great parent teacher conferences? Reply below and let me know! Also, don’t forget to check out my Free E-Book and newsletter that will show you a great way to improve your child’s speech skills at home as well as get you signed up for weekly newsletters filled with speech and language activities and tips!