Although you cannot attend a parent-teacher conference in person while deployed, there are ways you can remain involved and invested. You may end up communicating by email, online chats or relaying concerns through your spouse or your child's guardian. If you have access to video-teleconferencing and the school is able to set it up, you may be able to attend a conference this way. A little planning and taking advantage of modern technology can help you to stay connected.
- Ask for the teacher's support before you deploy. When talking with your child's teacher before you deploy, express an interest in attending the parent-teacher conference. Ask if the school has video-teleconferencing capabilities or if you can attend through an online chat.
- Plan ahead. At least a month before parent-teacher conferences begin, email your child's teacher to begin planning the conference. Your child's school might be able to make special scheduling arrangements that would facilitate your participation by chat, phone or video conference. If several teachers are involved, it can be difficult to coordinate everyone's schedule, along with your military duty.
- If you cannot attend the parent-teacher conference, ask your spouse or your child's guardian to attend and relay your questions or concerns. It may not be ideal, but it will help you stay involved. Be specific with your questions, and ask them to take notes.
- Prepare for the conference. Before the conference, review your child's work. Your child, your spouse or your child's guardian may be able to send you copies. You may also be able to access your child's work through a school website, such as the DoDEA's GradeSpeed. You may see patterns you will want to talk about with the teacher.
- Talk to your child. You might also ask your child what he or she thinks the teacher will say. It is a great opportunity to learn more about what you child is enjoying in school and about additional support he or she might need in certain subjects.
- Write down all your ideas and concerns. If you are attending the conference through an online chat or video-teleconference, your time may be limited. Your list will help you stay focused on the issues you are most concerned about.
- Keep an open mind. Your child may be having more trouble in school than you expected. If the teacher suggests, for example, that your child needs help with math, remember that the teacher is trying to do what is best for your child.
- Develop an action plan. If you are concerned about your child's academic performance or behavior, work with the teacher to develop a plan for improvement. Maybe you can set up more time to help your child by email or voice chats. Maybe the teacher can recommend a tutor. Ask your spouse or your child's guardian to work with you toward finding the help your child needs.