It is the time of year when parents will make an annual visit to their child’s school for parent-teacher conferences. Making the most of that visit is important for insight into how your child is doing in school.
There are two aspects of school life parents should be asking about: social and academic.
“One of the most important things I think a parent can ask about is how their child is adjusting to the first quarter,” said Joe Moceyunas, principal of Riverside Junior-Senior High School. “If I’m a seventh-grade parent, that’s a question that I would be asking about — how they would be adjusting to a junior-senior high school level.”
He said another question parents should be asking teachers is how their child is doing when it comes to class participation.
“Do they raise their hand? Are they participating in class discussions? You want to see that socialization,” he said. “That’s important.”
Moceyunas said parents should ask about how students are interacting with other students within the class setting: group work, getting along with others and how they participate.
He said the academic questions are also important to address. Parents should ask if their child is struggling academically.
“Parents will often ask what they can do,” said Moceyunas. “Should they look to get a tutor or stay after school for more help. Those are important questions to ask.”
He said sometimes teachers will see something a parent might not see – a child who is socially withdrawn.
“Parents will often ask about who their child is associating with in school,” he said.
Moceyunas said those are good questions to ask, so parents can make an assessment about their child’s group of friends.
In a nationwide survey conducted by the National Education Association in conjunction with Parenting magazine, two out of three parents say their child’s teachers offer a supportive response to parent’s concerns. Meanwhile, 80 percent of teachers say parents are supportive of them. Nearly 88 percent of parents feel the teacher is a partner in their child’s success.
“Grades and trends, I think, are the most important,” said Mark Murphy, principal of Lackawanna Trail Junior-Senior High School. As both an educator and a parent, he sees these conferences from both sides of the spectrum.
He also said participation is important, especially when it comes to a child that has to be encouraged to participate.
“As a parent, I also would want to know if my child is turning in their homework. Is it late? Is it on time?” he said. “And the same thing goes for tests and quizzes. Is she doing well with homework or struggling with testing or is she doing well with testing and never turning in homework.”
Murphy said Lackawanna Trail, like most schools, has an online parent portal where parents can monitor their child’s academic progress.
“I always tell parents a grade only tells half the story,” he said. “Even though an 85 in math might be a good score, I still encourage that parent to come in and talk to the teacher because the teacher would be able to tell you how hard the child is working to get that grade.”