By: Tonya Mead, CFE, PI, MBA,MA Educational Psychology
So, you’ve been called by your child’s school to attend a parent-teacher conference? Are you prepared to be admonished for failing to help your child with his homework? Roughed up because you don’t read to your child regularly? Allow him to watch too much television or play endless video games?
Parents Fight Back
Don’t fear. Use this meeting as a platform to fight back. You do have rights. Yes, your child is under the charge of school personnel 6-8 hours per day. They shape your child’s habits, monitor his behaviors and provide much more reinforcement (positive or negative) during the daylight hours than you ever could.
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Prepare Before the Meeting
To deflect negative criticisms of your perceived lack of parenting skills and your child’s alleged discipline or poor behavioral problems requires prior planning.
1. Talk with your child. Refrain from making accusations.
* What is his side of the story?
* Does he/she find it difficult to learn with this particular teacher?
* Ask for suggestions for ways to help him improve the situation at school.
* Is peer pressure a problem?
* Would a change of class or teacher help to resolve the teacher’s concerns?
2. Jot down a list of questions. Ask general questions such as:
* What is the student- to- teacher ratio?
* Does your school have open enrollment?
* What math book do you use?
* What type of correction methods do you use? Self, Group, or Teacher?
* What classroom interventions do you employ prior to involving others (like the principal, dean of students or counselor)?
* How many times do you issue warnings?
* Can you give me examples of the behavior you are indicating?
* Is my child the only child exhibiting this type of behavior?
3. Take notes during the meeting.
* What is the teacher or principal’s message?
* Separate your emotions about your child (disappointment, anger, indignation), from the presenting problem (your child’s academic performance or behaviors).
4. Reflect upon the message. Look for a joint solution.
* Have you noticed similar behaviors at home?
* What strategies have worked well for you in changing this behavior?
* What could you do differently at home to improve your child’s situation at school?
Tonya J. Mead, CFE, PI, MBA, MA, Certified K-12 Administrator and School Psychologist is author of Fraud in Education: Beyond the Wrong Answer and president of Shared Knowledge, LLC http://ishareknowledge.com