3 Tips to Prepare for Stress-free Parent Teacher Conferences

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

 Meeting with parents during conference times can be intimidating for any teacher especially when you don't feel like you have the most positive news to share.  But parent conferences do not have to be overwhelming or stressful.  These tips for how to prepare for parent teacher conferences will take the stress out of preparing for conferences and have you confident and prepared on conference day. 

1.  Prepare Conference Forms for each Student

Glow and grow conference forms and sign up sheett

Prior to conferences, write up a conference report for each of your students.  Include positives and areas for growth.  When you list strengths as glows and concerns as grows it keeps everything in a more positive light and shows parents that you truly care for their child.  For example, if a student calls out incessantly his grow could be, raise hand more often.  Or if a student is always in other people's personal space, her grow could be to respect other's space or stay in your personal bubble.  Wording things in a positive way sends a message that you are there to help, not put a child down.  

2.  Send Home a Preview Question Form

pre-conference parent questionnaire form

The best way to be prepared and curb your anxiety is to ask parents what they'd like to discuss before the conference.  A few weeks before conferences, send home a simple questionnaire to find out what concerns or questions parents have for you.  Then use this information to prepare for your parent meeting so you do not get caught off guard with a random question you did not anticipate.  

I have a FREE pre-conference form here in my TPT store.  Give it a try - it just may help you to build your confidence going into conferences. 

3.  Make a Folder for Each Student

color code conference folders

To help keep all your handouts, forms, etc. organized create a folder for each of your students.  This way when you have back-to-back conferences all you need to do if grab the next folder to find all your information.  A simple manilla folder will do, but you could opt to use pocket folders and send them home with parents so they can review the information at home.   The folders are also helpful for parents who are unable to attend in person, so you can send the folder home with your student so parents still get all the information you wanted to share. 

Looking for some conference forms to keep yourself organized?  Click here to check out this pack of editable conference forms that has everything you need for successful conferences

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What other tips do you have for running successful conferences?


3 Tips for Keeping Kids Engaged in Developmentally Appropriate Activities During Distance Learning in Kindergarten

Thursday, September 3, 2020

 Keeping the expectations for distance learning for kindergarten developmentally appropriate is a constant struggle and the screen time required only compounds the issue.  How can teachers keep instruction and activities age-appropriate while delivering content through a screen?  When districts mandate an exorbitant amount of screen time for remote learning for kindergarten kids, the only control a teacher has is how to use that screen time.

girl showing paper to the computer for distance learning

Distance learning expectations are different everywhere, but keeping 5-year-olds (and in some cases still 4-year-olds) in front of an iPad screen for 3+ hours a day hurts my teacher soul.  We know that's not what's best for little people.  But it's mandatory, so teachers have to be creative in finding ways to keep their students actively engaged in appropriate tasks.  

Last spring I wrote about the things that worked well for us during distance learning in kindergarten.  You can read more about that here.  But that was spring when kids started the year in person and we could do all the fun, developmentally appropriate activities to help build important motor skills. 

Keep kids moving.

2 girls jumping

Get them up and dancing.  Practicing numbers?  Use a fun video and get up and move.  Or send them on a scavenger hunt to find 2 spoons, or 3 markers, etc.  You can do some exercises like jump 5 times, do 2 sit-ups, hop 3 times.  Be creative and get them moving.  Kids need to move so giving them a purpose is helpful to keep them engaged and on task in a meaningful way.

Give them paper-pencil tasks when appropriate.

pencils paper and scissors

Don't forget what you learned in your child psychology classes in college.  Kids need developmentally appropriate activities to help them to develop important executive and fine motor skills.  Imagine a surgeon who never developed fine motor skills like using tweezers or cutting with scissors!  Fine motor activities should not be optional.

Listen, kids need to learn how to use writing instruments.  They NEED to use a pencil and crayons.  From a developmental standpoint, they need to continue to work on improving fine motor skills.   Sure, their parents might be working on these skills at home, but not all do.  Many kids come to kindergarten without being able to write their names let alone hold a pencil.  There is no digital replacement for this.  Kids need paper-pencil tasks.  

distance learning choice board

I know that some teachers are not permitted to send papers home (I'll keep my opinion on that to myself...) or they can only send what the entire grade level across the district sends home.  Somehow you have to get pencils and crayons in your students' hands.  Be creative, send craft "kits" home or cut and paste worksheets.  You could even send them home via email for parents to print out if they are able.    In the spring, we used choice boards like the ones pictured above. It helped to give kids options for motor practice and kept some assignment choices away from the screen.   

Take brain-breaks that do NOT require a screen.  

Give kids 15 minutes to grab a snack, use the restroom, do some exercises, take a cat nap, etc.   Get them off their devices to give their eyes a break.  Put them in your Zoom waiting room and walk away from the computer, get a fresh cup of coffee and a moment to breath.  You all need a break from the screen. 

Gonooodle is super fun for classroom brain breaks, but the kids need a break from their devices not just academics.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying abandon the fun videos and dances.  Just You can incorporate them during your live teaching time instead.  

What other tips do you have for keeping distance learning engaging and appropriate for kindergarteners? 

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