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Your Parent Teacher Conference

By Tracey Wood

If you've got some concerns or complaints to take with you to your conference you may be feeling a bit anxious. Here are 6 easy steps to help you through it.

1. Plan the time of your meeting. Make it at least 20 minutes and leave your children with someone else when you go.

2. Before you go, write down the points you want to make.Write in terms of your child rather than in terms of the teacher so you'll make your point without criticizing the teacher's conduct. ie "He is unhappy and doesn't want to go to school", rather than "You make him unhappy". "He seems to get so much homework", rather than "You give him too much homework".

3. Decide exactly what outcomes you want from the meeting. Think in terms of practical outcomes so you don't end up just talk about your issues. Try to think of practical answers and ask the teacher to help you out with this. Write down the practical steps you think of.

4. Avoid or defuse argument by keeping to your point. If an argument is developing, slow your conversation down and pause to regain some calm. Then, keep repeating your main issue. It might be that Johnny is unhappy at school. If the teacher doesn't really address your issue, by for example telling you how good the classroom reading scheme is, you might say something like, "I'm sure this program is good but Johnny is unhappy about reading. The program isn't meeting his needs."

5. Make it clear that you're willing to help. Offer any suggestions you've thought of and ask what the school can do to help Johnny. Can Johnny be included on an existing program? If not, can the school psychologist suggest anything? Are there volunteers who could help Johnny? Can you be trained to help?

6. Plan a follow-up. Meet again with the teacher; send her a note each week; call her. Do something. Then you can monitor whether the practical steps you though up are happening and whether they're any good.

Tracey Wood is a children’s reading specialist and the author of "See Johnny Read! -The 5 Most Effective Ways to End Your Son's Reading Problems" and "Teaching Kids To Read for Dummies". Tracey's hallmark is that she simplifies the latest information about reading into practical, bite-sized pieces that anyone, no matter how busy, can use to help a child make headway. You can contact Tracey or find information and word lists at her website,

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