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Ideas for a Parent-Teacher Conference on Discipline Problems

by Martha Holden

Active involvement in your children’s education, such as attending PTA meetings and volunteering at the school, has a positive impact on your children’s behavioral and educational development. A study byJ-PAL Europe affiliated Professors Marc Gurgand and Eric Maurin, testing whether participation programs had an impact on parents’ involvement and whether that involvement improved students’ educational outcomes, reported that children with active parents were 34 percent less likely to have disciplinary issues. Parent-teacher conferences aim at creating a forum that allows teachers and parents to discuss issues affecting children and come up with practical solutions.

Respond and Prepare

Teachers use a phone call, email or a letter to inform you about a meeting to discuss your child’s discipline. It is prudent that you arrange to attend, for example if neither you nor your spouse is available for the scheduled meeting, request for a rescheduling or request to participate through a conference call or Internet call. Before the conference, discuss with other people that interact with your child such as your spouse, caregiver or counselor and inquire if they have concerns. An informed approach to your child’s behavior helps you pinpoint the root of the problem.

Discuss with Your Child

Ensure you talk to your child about the parent-teacher conference and ask her to explain why she thinks her teacher would request a meeting to discuss discipline. This gives the child an opportunity to voice her version of events, which helps you get her perspective and attitude towards the issue. Refrain from being argumentative or accusatory and clearly point out your expectations of proper behavior in the future. Additionally, a calm mood gives your child an opportunity to own up to her mistakes.

Listen to the Teacher

Listen to the teacher carefully and ask questions when necessary without getting emotional or defensive. Take time before you respond or make a comment. Listen with an open mind and assume that the teacher has your child’s best interests at heart. Refrain from interrupting or reacting until you have all the information and you have gathered your thoughts.

Speak Out

As a parent, you know your child best and giving valuable information to her teachers helps address problems that may affect behavior or academic performance, such as with a child who cannot make friends easily and consequently resorts to bullying for attention. Including necessary details of the situation at home, such as a recent death or divorce, may also help explain your child’s change in behavior.

Develop an Action Plan

An achievable action plan ensures that you and the teacher both work on helping your child adjust his behavior at home and in school. Additionally, the plan should involve a method that helps monitor your child’s progress. Before leaving the parent-teacher conference, discuss ways to keep in touch or schedule another meeting to facilitate follow up. Be sure to thank the teacher before you leave to make her feel appreciated.

About the Author

Martha Holden began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous publications. Holden holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Houston.

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