MODESTO -- This week Modesto City elementary parents will meet with teachers to talk about their children's progress. Other districts, including Turlock, Ceres and Oakdale, will have theirs in November.
No matter the date, it pays for parents to do a little homework before meeting with their child's teacher. The California State PTA Parent Involvement Commission offers these tips.
LEARN: If possible, arrange to observe teaching in your child's classroom. Talk about what you saw and how it fits with your child's needs.
PREPARE: Write out questions to ask and things to tell the teacher. Take notes and ask about anything you don't understand.
CELEBRATE: Mention your child's talents, hobbies and what kind of person you see your child becoming.
SHARE: Discuss your child's study habits and any concerns about their learning. Mention sensitivities, such as weight issues, or recent changes, such as a new baby or illness of a family member.
COLLABORATE: Ask the teacher for specifics about your child's work and how progress is evaluated. Ask about specific things that you can do to help your child.
FOLLOW-UP: Check back in a few weeks to see if changes you made are working and how things are going.
CONCERNS: Start with a cooperative spirit and do not argue with the teacher in front of your child. Instead, set up a meeting to talk only about that issue. Plan what you are going to say, trying to be positive. Remain calm and listen carefully. If there is no resolution, arrange to talk with the principal. Keep focused on your child's needs.
The parent-teacher conference is level one of what schools hope will be strong family interest and engagement with their schools. Study after study says children succeed when parents show interest and set high expectations for their progress.
Ceres Unified has a districtwide family engagement program that offers monthly topics in education, said Deputy Superintendent Mary Jones. "We try to involve them in the learning, keep them updated with what the schools are doing," she said.
Modesto City Schools has focused on addressing parent concerns and needs. The first of three free Parents Make a Difference Conferences this year will be held Nov. 3 at Modesto High, said Jorge Perez, outreach coordinator.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339.