As a parent of a child with hearing loss, annual parent-teacher conferences are a crucial checkpoint in your child’s academic journey. Conferences can provide a valuable opportunity to connect with your child’s teacher, gain insights into their progress, and address any concerns. These are some of our top tips and questions to help you make the most out of your child’s parent-teacher conference.
The meeting should begin with a crucial first step: listening. Starting the conference by attentively absorbing what your child’s teacher shares will foster a collaborative and informative discussion. Allow the teacher to provide a snapshot of your child’s academic journey, highlighting achievements, challenges, and observations. (Pro tip: Have a notepad or device handy to jot down key points.)
Next, you are ready to address specific concerns and explore strategies for your child’s success. Consider writing down your list of questions ahead of time and taking it with you to conferences so that you don’t forget anything. Number the questions and begin by asking the most important ones first so that you will have time to discuss and get answers. Remember to involve your child’s audiology and speech team at Texas Hearing Institute. Ask your child’s audiologist or speech-language pathologist if they have any concerns that you should bring up with the teacher.
Understanding your child’s auditory access in the classroom is pivotal in ensuring their academic success. Instead of asking if your child appears to have any difficulty listening or hearing at school, think of specific questions that will provide more detailed information. Possible questions include:
- Does my child need you to repeat directions (especially if they have more than one step)?
- Does my child ask you to repeat things often?
- Does my child look around at their peers to find out what they should be doing in class?
- What kinds of spelling or pronunciation errors is my child making?
- How does my child do when listening in a group setting versus in small groups?
Academic progress is another crucial topic for conferences. Ask your child’s teacher about beginning of the year benchmark assessments and how your child scored on them. Benchmark assessments are typically administered for math and reading at the beginning, middle and end of the school year. These test scores can help you to understand your child’s academic strengths and needs, as well as provide an idea of what your child is expected to learn during the school year in each subject. Also, remember to ask the teacher for the best ways to reinforce academic concepts at home.
At the end of the conference, take a moment to express your gratitude to the teacher for their time, insights and commitment to your child’s education. Review any collaborative strategies discussed and any action items that arose from the conversation. Outline specific responsibilities and tasks to ensure that both you and your child’s teacher play an active role in implementing the discussed strategies for your child’s success.
Be sure to follow-up with your child’s audiologist and/or speech language pathologist after the conference. Share the information that was provided by your child’s teacher – their achievements, struggles and overall academic performance. This information may indicate that your child’s amplification needs to be adjusted for optimal listening at an audiology appointment or that they may need focused intervention to support an area of need during speech therapy.
Parent-teacher conferences are meant to be a springboard for an ongoing partnership with your child’s teacher. Maintaining open lines of communication with all members of your child’s team throughout the school year is the best way to ensure progress continues.