T Nation

Question for Fellow Parents / Teachers


As some of you know, I have a 5 year old. Long story short...parent-teacher conferences are this week and I informed the teacher that I wanted my son to attend. The reason for this is that I want to teach him to become engaged in his education (and things that directly affect him) and I don't want a "filter" when discussing his performance. There are no major issues that I'm aware of and his report card was good. I just want him to "participate", particularly as it concerns a minor behavioral issue he has in terms of working independently and not disturbing others.

The teacher discussed my intention with the principal and I am meeting resistance. No explanation, just an "against policy" and it's a "parent-teacher" conference and not a "parent-teacher-student" conference. No shit - as if I needed the literal distinction spelled out to me while ignoring the practical explanation for resistance.

I'm truly bewildered and looking for a second opinion and maybe a teacher's perspective. Why shouldn't this open communication be ENCOURAGED among teacher/parent/student? What is the practical need for a "filter"??? Seems to me the conference would be much more valuable if the student attended.

What am I missing here? I"m not interested in debating my parenting decision. I'm interested in knowing what the hell the problem is...


I agree that you want to teach him to become engaged in his education, but he's 5... FIVE. How engaged can he truly be with all 3 of you siting down together?

Frankly, I'm a bit confused as to why a parent-teacher conference is even scheduled if there are no major issues.


It's not a question of "how engaged" but rather introducing him to the concept of accountability and being able to talk to socialize with adults. If his teacher tells me he sometimes has trouble not disturbing others for instance, I rather him hear it from her while I'm there as opposed to me "filtering" it later so that he can process it and become part of the direct solution. At 5 I think they understand a bit more than you may be giving them credit for...I know it's been a long time for you.


It's probably one of those things that nobody has ever done before, and the administration is saying "no" just because "we've never done it that way". I'm sure your idea is too forward thinking for some principals to grasp.

I fail to see why such a suggestion would meet with any resistance. The child is in class with the same teacher all day, so it's not like she never interacts with your child. I doubt she'll be saying anything in front of your son that he hasn't heard before. Seems kind of odd to me.

Possibly, particularly because there are no major issues being discussed, the teacher is just looking at it as a quick, administrative thing? You know....she has to check it off in her book that she met with you, but she didn't really plan on it being a big whoopie-doo?

Honestly, I would just show up with him anyway. When they say "it's against policy", tell them you want to see the policy. Since I doubt it's in writing anywhere, I would say you'll be at checkmate within a few minutes.


Take the kid.

In our school, it's really teacher discretion. My wife is a former public elementary school teacher. I just asked her what she does and she said she always wanted the kid in there because they're talking about the kid, the kid should be there. No surprises and nothing that the kid hadn't heard before anyway and everyone is on the same page, even at 5.

Our kids just had P/T conferences and the teachers just called the kids in when they wanted them to hear the important relevant stuff. I don't think they cared if the kids were there the whole time. Some teachers do.

Remind the teacher/administration that YOU are the parent and this is YOUR (the taxpayer's or tuition payer's school) and if you want the kid in there for part or all of the conference then they will be there. Period.

I'll stop here-- I just deleted a large rant and don't want to derail the thread.

Bottom line: U da boss.


Thanks for your wife's opinion. This is EXACTLY what I was thinking. And I DID ask for the alleged "policy".


The crux of modern education is more about compliance than learning. If your kid becomes involved in his own education he might start thinking, and that is a big NO-NO in compulsory education.

You have already violated rule number one by not doing exactly what you were supposed to. This can easily be construed by the educators as either a lack of ability to follow instructions or as outright defiance, hence the glib brush off referral to policy and statement of the obvious.


Honestly, whether you agree with my parenting decision or not, or are "meh" about it, I'm pretty fucking outraged that this is meeting with ANY real resistance. I truly don't get it. There have been 3 emails back and forth on the subject now (nothing substantive from them) and I'm pretty pissed off.



Even 5 year old kids know how to manipulate adults, best to have the child there to know you and the teacher are BFF's.


LOL but you're right. And I honestly think they have no fucking clue how to communicate with informed and educated adults. They spend their days communicating with children and forget when they are actually addressing a fellow ADULT.


EXACTLY part of my thinking (in addition to truly wanting him "engaged", even at a young age).


As a parent of divorced children this is VERY important.

BG I would just take your child and tell them to deal with it.

If I had the money when my kids were young I would have gone with private school.


I say make the appointment and take the kid. I think it would be good for your boy to see you interacting with the teacher. If they look at you funny tell them babysitter is sick, too drunk to stand, whatever.

I know some PTO groups have become PTSO to include the students.

My wife teaches high school and they have kids attend. I do not have to deal with patents. But I am quite certain I am going to a parent they do not want at the teacher-parent conference.


Reading this is kind of weird to me.

When I was in elementary school I was required to be at the parent teacher meetings. And there was always one after every report card. Up until 6th or 7th grade at least. And then if there was somethign private to discuss Id sit outside.

Pussification of America continues.


They don't even want to communicate with adults. In a lot of educators (teachers, principals) minds, the last thing they need is some nosy blowhard parent who doesn't "understand" making their job any harder than it is already.

You sound like you are becoming "problematic". As word travels from teacher to teacher and year to year there will be no doubt as to where the kid gets it from. (thats all tongue in cheek)

I went through this wringer starting in about fourth grade when I was being taught how to add whole numbers again after mastering multiplication and division the previous year. Then my dad started asking some valid and very hard to answer questions.

Then I became "problematic".


My daughter is going to start problematic. Nearly finished the kindergarten curriculum, just turned 3. I have been worried about her schooling for a year now. I am afraid she will get bored in school.


Lol sorry Ag this just makes me chuckle. I forgot what its like to have a 3 year old.

You wearing Burnt orange this week? :slight_smile:


My wife is a teacher of the NYC public school system for the past 14 years, while she has never refused or met this request with resistance I do believe at times this can cause issues. If the student is present during parent teacher conferences their may be a physical impediment to speak of the child's progress candidly. This may be due to the teacher's lack of wanting (also lack of professionalism) to give full disclosure in front of the student (especially with older students) or the parent's lack of being objective and devoid of emotion in front of the student.

My wife personally has never had an issue and she teaches 1st grade. She has says more than anything that at times children and can simply be a distraction mainly for the parent (i.e. trying to control their young child in a an adult setting) I also believe no one has ever brought it in the perspective as you did, having your child actively engaged in the other parts of education. I actually think its a unique perspective and if it behooves the parent a good idea.

Personally I have to bring my 8 year old daughter to PT Conferences because my wife is conducting her own as a teacher. If I had my druthers however, I would not want her to accompany me, I would like my own time with the teacher w/o my daughter its simply a preference.


That is a legitimate concern. If it's financially feasible, I'd look toward private education geared toward accelerated learning.

I plan on having kids shortly, and if they are anything like me or my wife, I don't know what I'm going to do.


Talking to my wife, who had discussed conferences with our babysitter who has a couple of kids in elementary school. Anyway, the teacher may not be able to speak as candidly or technically in front of the kid without worrying about scaring the kid. Thinking back to a few early pt conferences I attended as a wee kid I get that point. The "negative" stuff did sting but I felt safe with my mom there. She handled it so matter.a.factly that I did not worry. My mom was an elementary school teacher who worked in innercity Houston in the 60s, meaning whatever was said.was probably not going to top the real horror stories some of her students called life.