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Parent-teacher conference for special needs students

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All children have specific strengths and challenges. For the child with any type of learning difference, this takes on particular significance. The parent-teacher conference is a time for you to check in with your child’s progress and challenges.

Where does the teacher see the child’s strengths and challenges, academically, socially, with class participation and work habits such as following directions, staying on task, completing assignments, asking for help?

  • Make a list of both positive and negative experiences your child is having at school and share them with the teacher.
  • Write down specific questions and goals you have for the meeting. There may an opportunity to share these ahead of time with a note or email.
  • The teacher is a trained professional who generally wants the best for your child. See this as a collaborative relationship. This is a time for you to share what has been most difficult and most helpful for your child in the past. If there has been an assessment and an IEP, has this information been shared with the teacher? If there are current issues in the classroom, have there been recommendations in the IEP that may address these issues such as preferential seating near the teacher, the need for frequent opportunities to get up and move, minimize copying from the board or book, opportunities to use verbal, visual , or experiential learning, depending on your child’s profile.
  • Arrive on time. Your child’s teacher may have conferences scheduled back-to-back, so if you are late you will deprive yourself of meeting time.
  • If possible, both parents should attend and should be in agreement about what you want the meeting to accomplish.
  • Acknowledge your appreciation of what the teacher is doing. If you put the teacher on the defensive it will be more difficult to have a successful meeting.
  • Ask your most important questions first, just in case time runs out before you and the teacher have a chance to discuss them all.
  • If there is outside support being provided by a tutor or Educational Therapist, share this information with the teacher and encourage collaboration through exchange of email addresses.

End the conference by summing up decisions you’ve made together.

[AUTHOR: Deidre Dubin – M.SC., Board Certified Educational Therapist]

November 4, 2014

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