Kindergarten children and their parents across many states have a chance to conference with their child’s teacher before the year begins. The purpose of this introductory conference is to see the classroom program and give parents a chance to talk about their child’s strengths and needs. This conference often produces a great deal of anxiety. Parents worry “What do I tell the teacher? If it is something negative, will this give her a bad impression of my child? What is important to tell?”
Parents often think it’s important to tell the teacher how many letters their child can read, or how the child can count 25 objects accurately. These are the things that are easy to see right away, and not the “stuff” that really impacts learning. Your child’s unique experiences and ways of coping with challenges have a huge impact on his/her learning.
Here are some ideas of important topics to share:
- Who are the special people in your child’s life?
- What kind of support do they offer you or your child?
- How does your child react when he/she is afraid or uncertain?
- What does your child do when he/she is angry or frustrated?
- Does your child have a disability?
- Does your child have a family member with a chronic illness or disability?
- Has there been any significant changes in your family this year, such as birth of a sibling, divorce, death of a loved one or move to a new home?
- Does your child have a sibling in the building?
- Is your child in child care? Where?
- Has he/she ever been asked to leave child care for behavior?
- What is the best way to reach you in an emergency? What about just to share positive information?
- Finally, is there anything you are worried about?
Kindergarten teachers are astute observers. Within the first few hours of kindergarten, these skilled educators will be able to identify which children can’t share, which ones have never been read too, and which children will likely be the class leaders. It helps if the teacher knows that YOU acknowledge your child’s strengths and needs. It opens a channel for good communication all year long. Your honesty will build the bridge for a great partnership throughout your child’s school career.