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Preparing for Preschool Parent/Teacher Conferences

What to ask and expect at this important part of your child's education

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Parent teacher conferences are a way for moms and dads to learn about what goes on in the classroom/

Preschool parent/teacher conferences are a great way for moms and dads to learn about what exactly goes on in your child's classroom.

Ross Whitaker
When you think about what your child does at a typical day of preschool -- painting, playing singing, reading, eating snacks -- you may question why your child's preschool teachers are holding parent/teacher conferences. "What," you may wonder, "could we possibly be there to talk about? That my child can't color in the lines yet?" While that may or may not be the case, parent/teacher conferences are actually an incredibly important part of your child's preschool experience.

When you meet with your child's preschool teacher, you are going to learn a lot about your little one, from his strengths and weaknesses, to his favorite things to play with and how he really interacts with other kids. Ever wonder what really goes on in a preschool classroom? This is your chance to find out! Think of a preschool parent/teacher conference as your eyes and ears into a world you aren't always a part of.

So now that you know the importance of these types of meetings, you have some homework to do. Here's how to get ready as well as a list of questions you might consider asking your child's teacher.

  • Be prepared. Before you go in to your child's parent/teacher conference, write down a list of questions and concerns that you might have, whether they are academic, social, or with a specific incident that might have occurred in the classroom. It's a good idea too, to have a quick talk with your child. Does she like preschool? What is her favorite part? What doesn't she like? Write everything down so you don't forget. This is such a great opportunity to get some one-on-one time with your child's teacher who will be focusing solely on your little one so you don't want to miss out. Bring a pen and paper with you as well, so you can take notes as you chat.
  • Be open-minded. Everyone wants to hear good things about their child, but the reality is, that every child isn't perfect. If your preschooler's teacher mentions something that could be a problem -- whether it is a behavior issue or even what the teacher thinks could be a speech delay or some other development delay, listen to what she has to say and then start to work together to come up with a plan of action. If you need time to think it over, say so, and see if the teacher is available at another time. Remember the common goal is to help your child succeed and a preschool teacher can play a big role in that.
  • Get specifics. If the teacher mentions that your child is having trouble socializing in the classroom, ask her to provide you with details. You'll have a better sense of what is going on, and may be able to provide some insight if she can give you detailed incidents. For example, if your child pushed a classmate last Wednesday, you may remember the night before he went to bed later and was very cranky when he woke up in the morning.
  • Give specifics. Communication is truly a two-way street and that is never more true here. If there is something going on at home -- the birth of a new sibling, a move, a divorce, a death in the family -- definitely let the teacher know what is going on. And that's true whether your are in the middle of a teacher conference or not. Even if your child is behaving fine at home, life events like this can definitely impact a child's behavior.
  • Come up with a game plan. At the end of the conference, make sure you know what the next steps are (if any) and what the best way to contact your child's teacher is--phone, email, after school, etc. If the teacher has indicated she needs to get you more information, find out when she'll have it to you by and when you can and should follow up.

Five questions for your child's preschool teacher
It's likely that most of your concerns or questions will be answered within the conference itself, but if the teacher wants to know if you have anything else addressed, consider asking these questions:

  1. What is my child like in class?
  2. What are my child's strengths and weaknesses? Follow up: What can I do at home to help work on any areas that need reinforcing?
  3. Do you notice any issues with my child's development for his or her age?
  4. How does my child interact with the other children?
  5. What will my child be learning this year?

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