Once children reach high school, parent-teacher conferences seem to be reserved mostly for students with poor grades or behavior. When I show up for no apparent reason, teachers have asked me, “Why are you here?” So I will tell you. There are a few good reasons to schedule parent-teacher conferences even when your older student is doing just fine at school.
I want them to know I am still paying attention. Teens are working at separating from their parents, gaining independence, learning to take on adult tasks for themselves. But they aren’t quite there yet. While I fully support my teens in doing as much adulting as they are ready for, parent-teacher conferences are one way that I demonstrate my support to them. I am still here if you need me, even if you don’t need me at the moment. I care about what you are learning and who you spend your days with. Even though you are older, I am still interested in hearing about your skills and successes along with your struggles and challenges.
Teachers are a wealth of information. Even if a teacher and I do not need to discuss my student’s progress, we have plenty to talk about. Teachers know of extracurricular activities I have never heard about, as well as which ones might suit the strengths and interests of my teens. In my experience, they are more forthcoming with the details of your particular school’s inner workings than a school counselor might be. What is the difference between Calculus AB and Calculus BC? Would music theory be a good class if my child doesn’t know how to read music? Is taking a college class in the summer a good idea for a kid who doesn’t like this subject? Which AP classes are heavy on the homework, and which ones are not? Teachers are happy to share their knowledge with you if you just ask. They might even tell you about a side of your teen they see in class that is different from what you typically get at home.
Encouragement all around. Luckily, teachers usually have nice things to say about my kids. No matter how much I tell my kids how wonderful I think they are, it is different coming from a teacher. You know, someone who doesn’t have to adore them just because she gave birth to them. My kids love to hear what teachers say about them when I come home, and if they have worked hard, I am happy to share any encouragement I can with them. Yes, someone other than me notices that you are curious, kind, or hard-working. Good job, kid. Likewise, moms and teachers can use a few words of appreciation, too. I love to tell a teacher when my child enjoys their class. And of course, all those things teachers say about my kids encourage me, too. Parenting and teaching can both be thankless jobs so a conference is a perfect time to spread a little love where we can.
Conferences can be eye-opening and helpful for all types of students and parents. Most of us will have one more shot at parent-teacher conferences this school year since many schools hold one in the fall and another in late winter. I encourage you to take the opportunity to go, no matter the age of your child, no matter the grades on their report card.