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Don't be Spooked by the Teacher!

By Jodie Lynn

Parent/Teacher conferences are right around the corner. I am not sure why they come right before Halloween, but it is a known fact that once school is in session for a short time, for most schools, the conferences will greet or beat Halloween.

Q. Should kids go along to parent/teacher conferences?

A. Ask the teacher what he/she prefers. Sometimes, it helps the child to hear the good and the bad straight from the teacher's mouth. Additionally, if your child is younger than seven, they may not want to sit still long enough to benefit from the conference. However, if it is a performance review paired with an open house or something like an art show, it might benefit the child and be fun, too.

A good rule of thumb is to leave the children at home unless the teacher invites them, at least for the first conference. Very few parents bring their children in on the first parent/teacher conference. Nevertheless, sometimes, especially during the second time around and their grades are slipping, it helps to let them hear what the teacher has to say.

For example, children, and this means teens too, that are failing certain subjects can hear exactly what the teacher thinks may be taking place. There is nothing worse than going home and trying to explain to your child what the teacher said the problem was and what you think it is and then hearing something totally different from the child. Taking your kid along for the second go around is the perfect opportunity for the parent and teacher to hear what the child has to say about it as well. Nine times out of ten, it is not what you were told or what you thought the problem was. (Amazing, isn't it?)

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It's also a great opportunity for everyone to become involved in offering suggestions to fix the problem without blaming or using one person against the other for excuses. Last year I heard one student tell his mom that he was embarrassed to be following her around from one room to the other; she simply replied, and loud enough for anyone within earshot to hear, that if that was the case, then she guessed he wouldn't be failing the same subjects next would he?

To get ready for a conference and to adhere to your time slot, ask your child if there are any concerns two days before the conference.

Make a list of those concerns as well as any of your own.

Read your child's concerns and ask about any you do not understand.

If there are bully issues, get full details.

Do not blame anyone for anything until you have heard the full story.

Stay positive, talk about the good points of the situation, and let the teacher know you are willing to work together for the success of your child.

Follow through with suggestions and talk to your child about a plan on improving specific areas.

Maybe having the conferences right before Halloween is timed precisely right -- this way, you can calmly mention any outstanding book reports, essays or other timely projects that need to be done by -- you guessed it, Halloween!

No completed assignment, no trick or treating. Of course, you have to follow through on the consequences, so be careful of empty threats. After all, I don't know even one single adult who doesn't enjoy the treats of Halloween.

© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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