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Oct 24 2013

How to prepare for parent/teacher conferences

Notebook Paper BackgroundIt’s that time of year again, friends, when you toddle on into a school, sit in a wee little chair with your knees in your ears, and are presented with hard evidence of your child’s successes and struggles in school. It’s parent/teacher conference time.

I still have a touch of the PTSD around parent/teacher conferences, courtesy of The Most Complex Child on the Planet™ and his last few years in school. As a homeschooler, parent/teacher conferences are a breeze. I may or may not conduct them in the bathroom, or with a glass of wine.

“Self, how is A doing in school these days?”
“Well, Self, he’s struggling with time management and executive function/planning skills, but he’s killing vocabulary, programming, mythology, and logic.”
“Good to know, Self. Be sure to let me know if anything comes up or if you need anything.”
“Will do, Self. Cheers!”

However, we do still have one in brick and mortar school, and this evening we’re toddling on into the school to sit with our knees around our ears and be presented with hard evidence of J’s successes and struggles with 4th grade to date. I am less than enthused about going, as we’ve watched him struggle this year with homework and the disaster of a math program being used (if we have to re-teach every night we might as well do it ourselves…which is just eerily familiar to my ears).

But fear not! Be Prepared is the motto ’round these parts, and prepared for parent/teacher conferences we shall be!

  1. Lower your expectations. Now even lower. In fact, drop them to the point that anything above “he’s been taking a Mad Magazine and having a daily potty break behind the library books” is a win. That way, when you hear that your child hasn’t been finishing his work or has been chatting on a daily basis with her bestie, it’s really not that bad.
  2. Be ready to hear anything and everything, and that at least one thing will come as a complete surprise. May the surprise be a good one.
  3. Have an exit strategy if things go south. A dog back at home with food poisoning, you got a call right as you got to the school that the dishwasher imploded itself all over the kitchen, fake a seizure. Bonus points for creativity and realism.
  4. If you know the meeting could be a rough one, show up with a gift card to the nearest liquor store. I kid kinda sorta not really.
  5. Speaking of liquor stores, be sure there is wine back at home.
  6. Name your ulcer. Oscar is a good one, George and Bertha are winners too.
  7. Do nothing after the conference that requires your brain, for it will be mush. Good news or bad, your brain will be goo by the time you get out of there. Go home, call the day done, have a glass of wine. Or two.
  8. Evaluate the pros/cons of having two kids at home and if your liver you could handle that.

See? With just a little bit of preparation you too could be ready for the endless possibilities of parent/teacher conferences!

And for the record, numbers 2-7 work for teachers, too. I was a teacher, I know this.

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  1. Mona

    I do NOT miss parent-teacher conferences. Not one bit. Even when we had wonderful teachers, the comments were so hard to hear.

    Except that one time when the teacher said that, if she could take any of her students home to live with her, it would be our son because she so loved talking to him. That was a good conference. That part made the other stuff easier to swallow.

  2. Nova

    What?! Okay now I am scared. Mine is in kindergarten (and the other two are younger) and this is my first conference *ever.* I had been planning to ask why he was coming home with uncompleted activities (I guess I am naïve in my assumption that it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure completion?). And yesterday he came home and said “I got a different worksheet than everyone else today.” I’m really scared now!

    1. Jen

      Worksheets in kindy? 🙁 Hope your conference is painless!

  3. Gail Post

    Pretty funny (if it weren’t so typical) description. But it would be great if parents felt they had more control and fewer surprises at the meetings.

  4. Susanne

    fyi, you could handle it, i know you could.

  5. Colleen Pence

    This is so timely! I have my first parent/teacher conference this afternoon for one of my kids. It’s taking place a full two weeks before the regularly scheduled conferences (as has happened EVERY SINGLE YEAR) because my bright, eager, chatty daughter is complicated. And teachers love to point that out to me early in the year. Yes. Masters of the Obvious they often are, but they mean well.

    Taking your tips under consideration, preparing my low expectations, and chilling a glass (or 5) of wine. Thank God my conference is at 3pm. By the time I get done it will be 5 o’clock somewhere, right?!?

    Thanks for the post. 🙂

    1. Jen

      It is always 5 o’clock somewhere, especially after conferences. LOL!

  1. Gifted News & Resources: October 26, 2013 — Living the Life Fantastic

    […] How to prepare for parent/teacher conferences […]

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