8 tips for a positive parent teacher conference

8 tips for a positive parent teacher conference

Parent-teacher conference can be a great tool for you, your child, and your child’s teacher. Taking time to consider what you’d like to discuss with the adult who spends many hours with your child can be helpful for everyone.

8 Tips for a positive parent teacher conference | School | student | teacher

Here are eight ways you can make the most of parent-teacher conference.

1- Review your child’s recent work.
By looking through work from the couple weeks prior to the conference, hopefully you’ll have an idea of what the teacher might be planning to talk to you about.

2- Look for patterns in the areas your child needs to work on, as well as their success areas.

3- Make a note of anything you might have questions about
How can you supplement teach at home, do they need a reward system in place, etc.

4- Ask your child how things are going and if there’s anything they wish they could say to their teacher.  
Hopefully we’re talking to our kids each day, but by letting them know you’re preparing to visit with their teacher, they may have extra things to say.

5- Go in with a team attitude!
This is the person spending hours with your child each day. You definitely want them on your side.

6- Be willing to work with the teacher.
It’s easy to get defensive or upset if things aren’t going as planned- this is your kid, after all! Most teachers truly do want what’s best for your child, so try to find a way to work with them.

7- Have a post-conference chat with your child, even if they were in the room during your meeting.
Talk to them about the things the teacher said- good and bad. See if you can find a way to address any trouble they’re having. It was at this point in the process I discovered my child can’t see the chalkboard! The teacher mentioned his copy work wasn’t as perfect as she would like and in talking to my child, his desk faces away from the board, and he’s at the back of the class.  No wonder he’s having a hard time! And who knows? Maybe we need an eye exam. That hadn’t even crossed my mind before!

8- Consider a follow-up chat with a teacher.
Sometimes after I let things mull over for a few days, I think of ideas that could help or questions I may have. If you find yourself in this situation, see if the teacher is willing to spend a couple minutes with you to address those items. If you don’t really need another face-to-face meeting, you could write a note or make a quick call.

8 Tips for a positive parent teacher conference | parenting | student | kids | teacher | learning | education

What have you tried that has helped with your parent-teacher conferences? Share below!

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Alone on the Playground: How to help kids make friends
Can we sit together for family dinner?

Alone on the Playground- how to help kids make friends

Alone on the Playground- how to help kids make friends

No parent wants their child to come home and say nobody will play with them, but unfortunately it happens. And it’s heartbreaking.

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There are SO many things that affect how kids make friends. Relationships at home can be a big component, along with individual character traits and experience.

Here are a few things to help ease kids into making friends.

  1. Role play with kids at home. It’s a safe environment- your kids know you love them. Take turns pretending to be the child wanting to make a friend. “What’s your name? Would you like to play with me?” Sometimes it’s a matter of just knowing what to say. At home, kids get used to just playing together without introductions or asking.
  2. Talk to kids about listening. People like to talk about themselves and when you’re looking for friends, it can help others open up to you if you’re willing to listen to what they have to say instead of dominating the conversation.
  3. Look for opportunities to play one-on-one or in small groups. It’s a good way to help kids find a comfortable footing before they’re in a bigger crowd.
  4. Work on sharing. It’s hard to share, for some kids more than others. Most kids have a hard time playing with kids who are more reluctant to share. This doesn’t mean they have to share everything- just work to find something that’s they’re okay with others playing with.
  5. Help kids think about how others might feel. Example: You won the game so you’re really excited, but your friend is sad and having a hard time because they lost. How can you be happy about winning but still be courteous to your friend? Could you try to help them be happy too or at least not make them feel worse?
  6. Teach kids to consider situations when they’re looking for kids to play with. Are they in the middle of a game or just getting started? Do they seem like they’re playing nicely or would you be more comfortable looking for someone else to join? Do you see any other kids looking for someone to talk to? There might be others who are feeling left out or awkward that would love having someone to play with.
  7. Work with kids to avoid overly big reactions that might make other kids uncomfortable. Part of this could be as simple as avoiding problematic situations in the first place.
  8. Try to create a happy, stable environment at home. Life is full of ups and downs but having a secure foundation to fall back on can help kids feel more confident, which can help them form true friendships.

Has your child struggled with making friends? What has helped at your house?

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Strengthen Your Family through Creativity

Strengthen Your Family through Creativity

One child has his interests. Another has hers. Finding something to create together can strengthen relations- and get rid of the “crankies”- all around!

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Kids have so many interests and so many things going on, sometimes it’s hard to find common ground or something to keep relations strong. It’s easy to focus on what’s annoying at the moment (“he’s looking at me” or “she breathed on me”) but you can often change the mood by finding something to create together.

Here are some ideas:

  • Paint rocks
  • Bake cookies
  • Make up a silly song
  • Create holiday decorations
  • Pots and pans band
  • Paper bag crafts
  • Experiment with food coloring
  • Sock puppets
  • Paper airplanes
  • Countdown chains
  • Macaroni necklaces
  • Finger paint
  • Play dough

When things get stressful or you want a way to connect with your kids, CREATE!

What are some of the favorite creative activities at YOUR house?

When Mommy Loses It

When Mommy Loses It

I’d love to say I’ve never lost it as a mom, but unfortunately, I can’t.  I get tired, cranky, and overwhelmed just like my kids. What I CAN do is try to avoid “trigger” situations in the future and have a plan in place- just in case.

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So the other day, I totally lost it. We had a lovely road trip that included my daughter throwing up five times, overly warm temperatures, smelling vomit for seven hours, and a seat that left my back aching for days. Needless to say, it felt very long. Well into the day, something happened that pushed me over the edge. I walked away and tried to squash it, but when I was pushed again, something set off my release valve and out it all came.

I wasn’t mad at my kids but unfortunately they saw it.  This isn’t something that happens often in my life, but when it does occur, it’s epic. My kids wondered what was wrong and asked how they could help, which I appreciated, but mostly I wished they hadn’t had to ask.

Have you ever lost it?

Here are 7 steps to help in the future.

1- Create a Trigger List. If you lose it or feel yourself getting there, write down what’s triggering you. Is it a person, or too little sleep, hunger, or several things put together? Keep this somewhere you can access it.

2- Go through your list and think about the situations you don’t handle as well. Single out the aspects you have control over and those you don’t. Write them down and look for any patterns.

3- Consider the things you can control. Maybe you need to be better rested or fed. Maybe there are people or places you should avoid. Maybe there’s a change you need to make.

4- Look at the things you can’t change. Maybe there’s a family member causing strife, or something at work. Not all triggers can just be erased from life. Break things down even more and see if there are small, specific things you can try to deal with that will help you handle the bigger issues. If possible, specifically structure those times to help focus things on a more positive note. Maybe the way your co-worker chews her gum makes you want to scream- could you listen to music to help drown her out? Be creative and willing to experiment.

5- If there’s anything your family or friends can help with, let them know! Maybe seeing socks on the floor is a major issue for you or negative talk affects you in a major way. Unfortunately they can’t read your mind so help them.

6- Take care of you! We all get busy taking care of everyone around us, but sometimes you need to take a few minutes for self-care. You could do something big, or something less glamorous, but do something. When my kids were small and I was feeling extended beyond what I thought I could handle, I’d take a extra minute in the restroom (or 10 seconds if that’s all I could manage) and listen to part of a song that brought me peace and buoyed me up so I could get through the next while.
See some ideas for self-care HERE.

7- If you’re still struggling, make a priority list. Write down which things are A) crucial, B) important, C) nice but could live without, D) why was this on my list in the first place, and E) love but it isn’t the right time in my life. Compare this to your trigger list and see if there are triggers that you could eliminate from your life right now.

8- Keep trying and focus on the positive! This is an ongoing process as our situations change. Re-evaluate and make changes if needed.

Okay, I’m trying but I lost it. Now what?

1- Apologize if necessary. Maybe you were totally in the right and nothing needs to be done or maybe you need to make amends or apologize for the way you handled something.

2- If your kids were involved, make sure they know you still love them. Spend time doing something happy with them and, if the situation is appropriate, let them what you were struggling with at the moment.

***To clarify, by saying “losing it” here, we’re not talking abusive behavior, just those moments when you feel overwhelmed and struggle to contain it.  If you’re having issues with more severe behavior, look for resources in your area. There are people to talk to who can help!

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5 Tips for Unexpected Adventures

5 Tips for Unexpected Adventures

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Day 3: Positive Parenting Series

One day I was in the grocery store parking lot with my kids. We were just out running errands and my son suddenly got really excited. “Oh look, wow!  I saw one of those in a movie once! I would LOVE do that sometime.” I must have looked rather confused as I looked at where he was pointing- in the direction of the grocery store and a liquor store, because my son said, “you know, that thing people put money in and talk into?” Oh! The pay phone! I hadn’t singled it out as something fun and different because pay phones where everywhere when I was a kid. For my kids, calling someone on the pay phone was an exciting adventure.

Some of the best and most memorable adventures may not happen exactly when we plan or when they’re convenient for us. There are SO many possibilities if we keep our eyes open as we’re going about our everyday lives.  Obviously not everything is practical or likely to happen, but there are a lot of things you CAN do with very little money, time or effort.

Finding something unusual that stands out from everyday life can be made into an adventure that creates wonderful memories and helps your our family.

When I was a kid, my dad took us on adventures where we would hop on the freeway and just follow (what we thought) was just a random car. Then my dad would say, “they’re going to slow or they’re too yellow, or something else and we would choose another car to follow. They were all heading the same direction for the most part so it worked out pretty well. My dad usually had a plan of where we were going but just getting there and feeling like we were on a surprise journey was really fun!

So much of kids life is structured anymore and I love it when we find something out of the “norm” to do and experience.

Five things to keep in mind when looking for adventures.

1- It doesn’t have to be huge or complicated.

2- Take a minute and just enjoy it! The whole point is to have a few minutes with your family outside of your everyday routine. It’s okay to take a bit of time here and there.

3- It might not be on your schedule- but that’s the whole point!  Yes, there are times we really can’t stop and take ten minutes for something, but there are many times we can if we will.

4- Realize there will be different outcomes. Like the rest of life, some experiences may end up being fabulous while others are not. That’s okay! Some of my kids’ favorite adventures to remember are totally different from what we had planned or just felt like a flop at the time- but the memories can often be awesome!

For example, once we had an activity planned but ended up sitting and watching these hilarious birds fight over a sandwich, then watched the winner choke on it. Really stuck- like he could’ve been a cartoon with his neck poking out around it. “See- he should’ve shared!” To this day (several years later), my kids still refer to this when they’re having a hard time sharing- or just want a laugh.

5- You don’t have to leave home to have an awesome adventure! Experiment in the kitchen, explore your backyard, or learn about something new together.

Are you ready to look for everyday adventures? Enjoy!

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Positive Parenting- A 31 Day SeriesSee my whole Positive Parenting series here.

Is your child a non-sleeper?

Is your child a non-sleeper?

Have you ever struggled with a child who doesn’t sleep, even after trying all the “no-fail” parenting tricks? Some kids {and parents} have a much harder time with bedtimes.

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One day, I was sitting in a pharmacy waiting room.  I was so exhausted I could hardly stay awake- which was crucial because I needed to keep an eye on my toddler.  My entire body hurt and I felt like I just couldn’t handle one more thing.  Right about then, a woman approached me and said, “Is your child a non-sleeper?”

I almost answered no.  I just wasn’t up to politely listening to the advice that was sure to follow- or being told everything I was doing was wrong.  “Is your child a non-sleeper?”  I almost cried as I answered yes.  She gave me a hug and said, “I recognize that look.  I’ve been there too.”  At this point, I was feeling so grateful to be understood but also a little leery, waiting for the inevitable advice. (You know, the kind that makes you feel like it’s ALL YOUR FAULT your child can’t sleep)

We ended up talking for a few minutes.   I was able to confide my struggle to help my child while she listened without judging.  Looking back, I hope I even made sense!  I was SO thoroughly exhausted.  She told me about her child and how he learned to sleep- over time.  He was four and a half by the time he could sleep through the night.  No overnight cure, just night after night of love and support.  She gave me another hug and told me, “you’re doing great. Hang in there! You’re a good mom.  Ignore people who tell you you’re doing things wrong- they haven’t walked this path.”

She was SO right!  If people are telling you everything you’re doing is wrong, step back and look at the situations.

I don’t know where this woman is today but I wish I could thank her.  For not judging me.  For giving me hope.  And for taking a few minutes out of her busy life to help a stranger.

It’s easy to feel judged when you’re sleep deprived and struggling. Many people try to help by offering advice. You may get some useful ideas- but usually more fit the vein of, “you just need to let them cry it out” or “you’re just spoiling them.” If you can, just avoid those people when you know you can’t deal with them or politely tell them it’s a bad moment to chat.

There are, of course, some medical problems that can interfere with sleep.  If you suspect that’s the case with your child, definitely take them in to see a doctor.

You know your child, and you know yourself.
Take care of both and just BREATHE!  You can do this!

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Positive Parenting- A 31 Day Series

See my whole Positive Parenting series here.