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Parent /Teacher – Student Conferences

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Homeschool planning through looking back

by Stephenie Hovland

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Aren’t you glad you don’t have to endure parent-teacher conferences? It’s just one of the blessings for those who home school. The purpose of parent-teacher conferences is to check the progress of the student for the current school year. You may love the fact that you don’t have to stand in lines, hear how others think your child is doing, or try to reason with another teacher, but you may want to consider conducting a progress check of your own. You could call it a parent/teacher-student conference.

First, decide when the appropriate time is to review this year’s progress. It may be once a quarter, twice a year, or as a year-end evaluation.

Second, you need to decide what your objectives are. Do you want to evaluate your curriculum to see how well it fits your children? Are you checking the progress your children are making, to see how they handle the subjects or if they are staying on grade level? Maybe you just want to see how your children perceive they are doing. Before you move to the next step, choose which items you want to include in your conference.

Third, keep in mind that this is not a test. This is a conference, a progress discussion. Don’t administer tests, but be prepared to look at or discuss recent homework projects, tests or grades.

Fourth, make up a questionnaire for your children. Remember, it’s not a test. Give them the questionnaire a couple of days before you plan to meet, so they can be thorough and have time to remember everything.

Here are some questions you may want to use:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 means “perfect,” 5 means “okay,” 1 means “couldn’t be much worse.”) how would you rate ___________________ ? You can use this to evaluate each subject, specific projects, or a certain period of time.
  • Name three things that you think were the best learning experiences. Be ready to tell me why each one was so good when we have our meeting.
  • List one thing you think we could do better. Do you have suggestions for how we could improve it?
  • Which subjects/topics/projects are you very good at? Which ones do you struggle with?
  • If you could learn about anything, what would you pick?
  • What are some of your goals? They don’t have to be school-related.
  • What changes do you need to make to be more successful?
  • What changes do you think our family may need to make to help you learn better?

You can add your own questions to evaluate your unique situation. You may choose to have students fill out the questionnaire ahead of time or just think about the answers, so you can discuss them together.

Fifth, set up your conference and be prepared to listen to each child separately. Try not to be defensive; just listen. You may disagree with the child’s self-assessment. If that is the case, you can share what you think, but try to phrase it in a way so your child will listen. Perhaps something like this: “That is a very interesting observation, Emily. I have some other thoughts to go with it. Can I share them with you?” Then, proceed to share your concerns, and be prepared to listen again.

With some honest discussion, you will be able to evaluate your home school situation and your children’s progress. Allowing them to give you feedback empowers your children to be even more involved in their own education. You will all be rewarded by the experience.

Visit Stephenie’s site for specific tips tailored to classroom teachers and homeschooling parents.

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