Conferences give parents a chance to address concerns with teachers.
Fourth-grader Drew Hulse stayed home Thursday and sent his parents to school in his place.
Rob and Jamie Hulse, along with other parents, strolled the halls of Sunflower School and waited patiently for their turn to talk to teachers at the first parent-teacher conferences for the 1998-1999 school year.
"I'm looking for consistency," Rob Hulse said. "I want to hear from the teacher the things that I'm hearing from my son. And I want consistency in what he's hearing from us and from the teacher. I want that open communication."
Hulse said that conferences haven't changed in the five years he's been attending them.
"I'm still looking for the same things," he said.
Jamie Hulse said she thinks education is important and tries to convey that message to her children.
"We have contact with teachers other than conferences, too," she said. "We try to let (Drew) know that we think school is a good thing."
The first conferences of the year come at an opportune time, Jamie Hulse said.
"We're halfway through the first semester," she said. "It's a great time to evaluate where you are."
Most parents who attend conferences are interested in their child's grades and what they can do to help with potential problems, said Martha Wenzel, who teaches third and fourth grades at Sunflower.
"One of the greatest benefits is if there's a problem, we can catch it early," she said. "And it also gives me a chance to get to know parents. It's fun and good for the kids."
Among concerns parents have this year are how their children are progressing compared to their peers, whether their child talks too much in class and what they can do to make their child a better reader.
"Most of them want to do what they can to help out and let me know that they're available," Wenzel said.
The area most susceptible to student struggle is math, she said.
"A lot of the students think they have too much homework," she said. "But for the most part, at this age they usually like school."
That could spell a long weekend for many parents. Conferences continue today, giving students three more days of leisure before heading back to class.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.