Updated: Apr 9
Advice columnist Kori Carson Dean says steps can ease concerns
Dear Kori: My daughter is starting high school this year. I had a terrible time during high school. I was not a great student. I do not think that I will be able to help my daughter with her homework. I also feel so insecure about meeting with my child's teachers.
Can you give me some suggestions on how to get the most from the parent-teacher conference? I really would appreciate it.
-- Apprehensive Parent
Dear Apprehensive Parent: First of all, relax. Your concern is not unusual. In terms of helping your daughter with her homework, your daughter is old enough to accept responsibility for her education. This includes becoming more resourceful. At this point, your responsibility should reflect the role of a facilitator.
As a facilitator, you can ensure that your child has the necessary tools and resources to complete her homework. The necessary tools may include books, paper, transportation and tutoring (peer, teacher or private).
Keep in mind that the purpose of homework is to provide additional practice on a given skill or serve as an enrichment activity. Therefore, it is not the parent's responsibility to complete the task or to learn the material.
Another way you can assist your daughter is to return to school or enroll in enrichment classes. Consider subjects you would like to learn, relearn or explore. Becoming a lifelong learner is a good role model for your child.
You should keep in mind that you and the teachers have a common goal of helping your child develop her full potential.
To reduce your anxiety, try to work with your child's teachers throughout the school year. The school's open house may offer the first opportunity.
School open houses allow you a chance to learn a teacher's expectations and to gain an overview of the curriculum.
Often, open houses give teachers the opportunity to inform parents of the best way to communicate with them. Once you have a chance to digest the information presented at the open house, schedule a meeting to discuss any particular concerns, share important information regarding your child (such as strengths, weaknesses and medical issues) and your goals for your child this school year. Have general and specific questions you would like answered.
Be proactive. Instead of waiting for a problem to arise, develop a communication system with your child's teacher. This system might include requesting weekly progress reports, e-mail communications, and periodic phone calls.
Ongoing communication accomplishes three major goals: first, it keeps you abreast of your child's progress; second, it allows for immediate changes to occur; and finally, it changes your relationship with the teacher from stranger to an acquaintance.
Parent-teacher conferences are not limited to just report card time.
There is no rule that prohibits a parent from calling a conference. Request a conference when you think one is needed or just to confirm that things are on track. For the conference to be effective, both the parent and teacher must have positive attitudes and be willing to exchange ideas.
Kori E. Carson Dean, Ed.S., has more than 25 years' experience as an educator, principal, special education administrator, educational and behavioral management consultant and parent advocate. Contact her or send her a question by e-mail or write to her at 5103 West Pierson Rd. Ste. 3 Flint, MI 48504.