With each school year comes new clothing, classmates, teachers and … parent-teacher conferences. A parent-teacher conference is a meeting where you and the teacher discuss your child's progress at school. It gives you the opportunity to share information about your child and get answers to your questions from the teacher. This dialogue is meant to help enable you and your child's teacher to promote your child's success in the most appropriate way possible. And it will hopefully help pave the path for a collaborative parent-teacher relationship.
Usually, you only get 10 to 15 minutes with the teacher during a conference. That's why you want to make the most of this limited time by being prepared with a list of questions you want to ask. The more prepared you are, the more productive and efficient the meeting will be. Here are some questions to consider asking at the conference. Jot them down so you remember what you want to talk about, prioritizing them in case you run out of time.
- Can I tell you anything about my child that would be helpful to you as his teacher?
- Can I tell you about anything that's happening at home (such as divorce, illness, new baby)?
- How is my child getting along with his peers? How do you support kids if they're having social challenges (such as trouble at recess)?
- Have you noticed that he has any unusual behaviors?
- How do you discipline him?
- How is my child doing emotionally (happy, sad, confident)? Does he seem to enjoy school?
- What is a typical day like in your class?
- Does he seem eager and curious to learn? Does he ask questions in class? Does he participate in activities and discussions?
- What are my child's strengths?
- What are his weaknesses or areas that need improvement? What happens when he struggles? Do you have any advice on how we can help with that at home?
- Is my child working up to her ability/potential?
- Is my child on grade level for reading? Math? Science? Writing? Is he keeping up in class? Do you know why he may be having difficulties? What support systems are available at school to help him keep up? What can we do to help him at home?
- What are the most important skills that my child will be expected to master this year?
- How is my child doing with homework? How long should it take him to complete? What is your homework policy?
- What kinds of standardized testing will happen this year? How do you prepare kids for this testing?
- Can I share a certain concern I have?
- Can you tell me about your teaching methods?
- Before I leave, what are your expectations for my child? Do you have an action plan to help him meet those expectations?
- How and when do you prefer that I contact you to follow up—emails, calls, notes? Can I request another conference if necessary?
- What am I not asking that I should be?
After the conference, talk to your child about how it went. Discuss anything positive and praiseworthy that the teacher brought up. Then go over any concerns she had. Review the action plan for these issues and what comes next.
Then follow up and stay in touch with the teacher, keeping her in the loop on what you discussed with your child and any new issues that arise along the way.
All these efforts will help put you on the path for a positive parent-teacher relationship and a successful year for your child.