Soon it will be time for the annual teacher-parent conference. Many parents feel intimidated by their child's teacher. They sit at a conference, listening carefully to what the teacher says, but they are afraid to comment, contradict, or ask questions.

Usually, the parent will accept what the teacher has to say, nod a little, smile a lot, leave and go home. If the parent has heard something negative about the child, she goes home and rants and raves about this bad news. But, she doesn't have a clue about how to turn the situation around.

What can parents do to make a teacher conference a useful, productive, positive experience? Here are some tips for you:

1. to get all of that together.

2. Before the scheduled meeting time, sit down and write out your concerns and questions. Harmony between school and home comes only when both sides understand each other. Ask questions about whatever bothers you.

3. Report to the conference a few minutes early. Most teachers have busy schedules and do not appreciate lateness or missed appointments. If you absolutely cannot make the appointment time, call the school office and leave a message for the teacher. That's common courtesy.

4. Keep the discussion on the topic - your child and his educational progress. Don't waste time talking about your personal educational philosophy or "the way things used to be." Also, Always make sure that you have an appointment to see the teacher. Don't just "drop in" and think you will have a satisfactory conference. Teachers like to be prepared, present supportive material, and give evidence of student progress (or lack thereof). They need time current school gossip has no place at a teacher-parent conference. And, if you want to talk about family problems, it would be smart for you to make an appointment with the guidance counselor. A counselor is better equipped to handle those topics.

5. Don't leave the conference until there is a plan for improvement. Get the teacher to commit to certain actions that will help your child succeed. There are a lot of resources in a school to aid children who are not achieving at the desired level. Make sure that your child gets the help he deserves.

6. Tell the truth. If you can't get your child to do his homework, tell the teacher. Be honest about your child's grades. If you're unhappy, say so. Ask for help to improve them.

7. Agree to help your child at home. Ask the teacher to recommend steps you can take to make the situation more positive. Promise that you will do your part. Stick to that promise.

8. If you don't get satisfaction at the end of the conference, go directly to the principal's office and make an appointment to see him. After all, he is the instructional leader of the school. A joint meeting can be arranged with you, the teacher, and the principal. Don't leave the building until you have been satisfied that there is a plan in the works to help your child.

9. Some schools allow the child to take part in the parent-teacher conference. This usually works with students above the third grade. Together, the teacher, parent, and child can discuss educational progress, behavior, attitude, and other concerns. I have witnessed remarkable results from these 3-way meetings. It takes cooperation, but the end product can be amazing.

All in all, the parent-teacher conference is an important event. Please approach it with seriousness and good intentions.

IF YOU WANT TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM [1] OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.