If you attended traditional schools growing up, then your teachers usually held parent-teacher conferences and had teacher “in-service” days. That meant no school for the students and a day for teachers to review, plan, and prep lesson plans. They meet with parents to discuss students' work and progress and answer questions.
At least that’s what I imagine they did. So, let’s go with that for now.
Well, what about us homeschooling parents? We’re parents and teachers. How does this work?
It wasn’t until I was a few years into our homeschool journey that I decided to start having my own parent-teacher conferences. Yes. Just me and me. We are super fun when we get together.
We talk (to ourselves), listen to our favorite music and podcasts, eat chocolate, break out the colorful pens, revel in the blank planning pages, and perform detailed internet searches. We take a good look at what’s working and what’s not.
We, I mean me, also breathe. And take a needed break.
3 Simple Steps
Are you making time for parent-teacher conferences or homeschool planning days during your homeschool year? If not, I think you should. Read on for my three simple steps to planning and having a successful homeschool parent/teacher conference. With yourself. Because you’re awesome!
1 - Plan for the planning
Let’s be honest, a homeschool parent/teacher conference isn’t just going to happen. Nope. You've got to plan ahead.
We homeschool five weeks on and one week off. On that week off, I always schedule at least three to four hours for a conference.
Take a look at your schedule and find a day (or two!) and mark it down. I find that when I have something circled on my calendar and make it a priority, I am more likely to go through with my plans. Don’t cancel on yourself.
No matter if you homeschool year-round or on a traditional schedule, you need breaks during the year for planning, goal-setting, reflection and time to breathe.
Get your spouse or partner on board. Is a weekend day best? A Tuesday? Plan for success and plan to be away from your home for the day or at least a few hours.
Will you need to pack snacks? A meal? Factor in driving time too. If you know you’ll need at least three or four hours for your conference, make sure you give yourself that time so you’re not rushing.
2 - Set specific conference goals
These conferences are not meant to be huge planning sessions, per se. They can be if you have the time and desire, but be sure to set specific goals for yourself.
Here are some ideas:
- Review the last semester, quarter, etc. What worked? What didn’t?
- Take a look at each child's schedule, classes, projects, or anything that you've noticed about them lately
- Make note of favorite projects or field trips
- Update attendance sheets (if required)
- Research or plan upcoming field trips
- Sign up for classes
- Make a supply list (and go shop for them that day if possible)
- Meal plan (I am NOT this organized but some of you are and you should celebrate this)
- Read a homeschool book or personal development book or catch up on your homeschool or parenting podcast
3 - Leave time for fun and relaxation
Yes, you deserve fun and relaxation, friend. This is an important part of your homeschool parent/teacher conference day. Maybe treat yourself to a nice meal with a book. Or, shop alone for a few supplies and your favorite chocolate or tea. Are you holding on to a spa gift certificate? Use it! Take a walk at a local park or try a yoga class. Meet up with a friend but maybe skip the homeschool talk.
Do you have a hobby? Sewing or crafting? Writing? Painting or drawing? Running or swimming? Why not carve out some time during your homeschool parent-teacher conference for whatever lights you up right now. As homeschooling parents, it's important for us to feed our interests and our own love of learning—independent from what our children are learning.
By filling up your bucket after a productive conference, you are giving your mind and body a reset of sorts. We cannot fire on all cylinders all the time.
Ready, Set, Reflect!
I think it’s important to carve out time for ourselves during our busy homeschool years. By scheduling these conferences you're making an investment in your homeschool, your family and yourself. Reflection is a critical part of homeschooling. If we don't pause and look at what we've done and what our kids have accomplished or where they could use extra support, we will burn out quickly. We might miss something. We might lose our steam and our enthusiasm for homeschooling. Making time for a check-in with yourself. Your future self will thank you.