5 Tips for "Conference Night"

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

If your school is anything like ours, you are nearing the coveted time called conference night.

You may have already had yours.

I used to solely rely on these times as my time to communicate with Elizabeth’s teacher. But as we all know those 20 minutes or so, given while other parents are lining up in the hall, are not always all we need.

So with that in mind, I had a few suggestions about conference time.

PLAN AHEAD

I know that I used to go into the conference time ready to listen. Ready to hear how Elizabeth was doing in the mainstream classes, etc. I was so ready to listen that it did not occur to me to prepare my questions. I would ask them in reference to something the teacher said.

But I learned that I could and should prepare some ahead of time. Because as parent of special needs children, our questions will likely be different or more involved than those who do not.

MAKE TIME

By this, I mean, know that you will probably need a few extra minutes to talk. Our questions, and their thoughts take a bit extra to cover fully. And I know that allowing for those time will keep everyone much more relaxed. I know that as we would be in our conference, I could feel the pressure to finish as I could see the line of parents, waiting their turn, forming outside the class room. So contacting the teacher ahead of time will only help things go well.

PLAN FUTURE TIMES

If conference day is the first time you have talked to your child’s teacher, then it may be the perfect time for you to ask for more frequent times to talk.

I have learned it is so much better to meet often and this way nothing that is going on at school gets missed and any problems are addressed right away. If your schedule does not allow this, a phone call to talk a bit is great too.

CONTACT THE THERAPISTS

When I worked as a school nurse, I was required to be at the school for every conference night. Did I have many people visit me? No. But those that needed to usually had an important health concern to share or discuss. The same holds true for all the therapists our children see at the school.

They may not be available on conference night but by contacting them, you can schedule a conference time with them to discuss any concerns or just get an update.

KEEP RECORDS

Part of my massive amount of paper that make up my “Elizabeth file” comes from my note taking on conference times, bi-weekly meeting times and notes I made about concerns. If I feel like reviewing any part of her life, I can find those records.

So if you make notes or have questions, keep them organized. You can use them to see progress, remember what you talked about previously and keep them for referencing later.

Because with all that life brings, I don’t want to try to remember all the details of a meeting that was two months ago.

Just for the record, I still did all the above things with Elizabeth until her graduation last June. It always made it easy to keep good relationships going and let the educators know you were a team.

I hope some of these will help you as you work with and for your child.

I wish everyone a peaceful month!

-Michele

Michele Gianetti is a mom of three, registered nurse, and published author ("I Believe in You," "Emily's Sister"). She writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Follow her story since the beginning here.

conference night sensory processing disorder SPD special needs child special needs parent

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