Monday, February 26, 2018

Ideas for making conferences more meaningful

Have you started thinking about spring conferences yet? They tend to sneak up on us, we're celebrating the new year and then we blink and it's time for conferences and the end of the school year. 

Spring conferences are my favorite because by this point in the year, I knew my students and their families really well. I felt comfortable with them, but that often means that I didn't prepare for conferences as much as I probably should have. 

Here are some ideas that can make conferences more helpful and meaningful for everyone:

  • Be prepared to share easy activities that parents can do at home.  Every child has something that they need to work on.  If you have ideas for simple activities ready to share parents will be more likely to remember them and actually do them. Families will especially appreciate any written instruction that you can give them, like this
  • Find something to thank each parent for.  Do you really appreciate their willingness to volunteer for any task? Do they always make sure their child arrives on time? Have they been a wonderful advocate for your program? Let parents know that you notice and appreciate these things.  
  • Identify at least one personal story about each child that you want to share with their parents.  This could be something funny that they said, something especially kind that they did, or something that they worked really hard on.  This shows parents that you are paying close attention to their child and gives them a glimpse into another side of their child.  
  • Share a message from their child.  Before conferences let the children know that you're going to be meeting with their parents, ask each child if there is anything that they would like you to tell their parents, or if there is anything that they want their parents to know about school.  Write down the children's answers to share during conferences.  
These are the kinds of little things that make conferences something to look forward to instead of something to dread!

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