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DARMSTADT, Germany — With so many parents deployed, it is now more important than ever for teachers in military communities to be attuned to their students’ home lives.

So say Department of Defense Dependents Schools teachers, who are preparing for parent- teacher conferences in the upcoming weeks.

“We have to fill some of the void that children are lacking and needing,” said Michael Wakefield, a teacher at Darmstadt Elementary School, where 85 percent of the students have a parent deployed.

“We have to provide more understanding in our circumstances here,” he said.

A way for teachers to get a feel for what is going on at home is through parent conferences. Darmstadt, along with other DODDS schools, is gearing up for the conferences scheduled for after the end of the first-quarter grading period on Oct. 30.

Parents will have a chance to meet their children’s teachers and to learn how the children are progressing, what weaknesses the students may have and how they can help. They will also be able to discuss any discipline problems or changes at home that could affect school performance.

Teachers try to focus on the positives, and it is important for parents to have the same approach, said Alycia Allen, a second-grade teacher at Darmstadt.

“I always start with the positives,” she said. “You choose your language and ask the parents if they have any suggestions or have seen the behavior at home.”

She suggests parents also ask about the child’s schedule and what is expected of them on a daily basis.

When asked what parents should do to prepare for the conferences, Wakefield said, “Always start off with confidence. Let’s talk about the good things that your child is doing and accomplishing.

“Parents too often get a picture painted early that’s very negative. So we want to turn that around.”

Wakefield teaches a multi-age class of third- and fourth-graders and said that it is OK for parents to have their child accompany them to the conference.

“I would prefer to meet with the child and the parent together because there is no point in keeping secrets from the child,” he said.

“Obviously, a child at this age … knows very clearly that, ‘If my parents are going to talk to the teacher and I’m not going, it must not be good.’ It’s more relaxing if the child knows what’s going to be talked about.”

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