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Homeschool Parent/Teacher Conferences?
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It’s that time of year. Fall is settling in and the public schools are breaking for parent/teacher conferences. In our house, we incorporated a conference day. What? How is that possible? Why is that necessary? Well, if you ask my witty 16 year old son, he’ll sing you Tim Hawkins’ Homeschool Blues song. His favorite part… “when my momma’s talking to herself, it makes perfect sense. I say she’s only in a parent teacher conference.” He’d also tell you I have a lot of these conferences.

In all seriousness though, this conference day was important to our family’s homeschooling for several reasons detailed below.

Assess progress and where we need to be focusing

Meeting one-on-one with each child allowed me to focus on their individual progress, comprehension and mastery of their subjects. While I do this informally each day while teaching and grading, it’s important for me to have my children be a part of this process. I value their unique insights into their own learning. I found out what has excited them, where they have struggled and where they really want to focus. Through meeting with each child, I walked away with a better understanding of my role related to helping them learn.

Assess school year goals and make changes if necessary

At the beginning of the year, each child makes school year goals for themselves. I shared our process in this blog post. These individual conferences were a chance for my children to look back at their goals and self-assess how they are doing. I also gave feedback at this time. We made any adjustments to the goals and we celebrated their successes. It became another opportunity for me to identify any areas where I could provide additional help.

Stay on top of grading and reporting

Teachers in public school are required to submit grades quarterly. I discovered that scheduling a conference forced me to stay on top of grading. And, it also helped me to be able to identify my children’s overall grades for the quarter. In the past, we have never had to report them to anyone. This year, my oldest son’s club soccer coach asked for grade reports from each team member. I was able to pull everything together and create a report for him.

Energize the learning

Realizing we were one-fourth of the way through our school curriculum was exciting for the kids. It allowed them to come back the next week and begin with fresh excitement for the second half of the semester. For me, I felt validated. We started our school year later than we normally do and we have had a hectic two months. I have witnessed progress, success, and children taking responsibility for their learning. Not only did having a conference provide new energy for my kids, but it also energized me.

Provided a teacher planning day

The day after the conference held an added bonus and a surprise for the kids: they were given the day off! I was given a teacher planning day. The kids had down time and relaxed. I worked ahead to organize the next several months of school. That was a win/win. Conferences do not have to be a formal event. For our family, however, the conference provided dedicated, unrushed time to focus and connect with each child. Rather than worrying about getting back to school lessons, I just did an individual conference with each child. It is something we will do again before we break for Christmas. Next time, we plan to schedule the conference on a day when my husband can join us as well. In the meantime, I’ll continue to talk to myself….while my 16 year old son sings Tim Hawkins in the background!

Debra Schroeder

HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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