Preparing for Your Child’s Parent-Teacher Conference

School hallwayParent-teacher conferences are a critical time to obtain information about how your child is doing in school. Most conferences are scheduled for about 20 minutes. Because time is limited, it is important to be prepared so that you get your questions answered and learn how best to partner with your child’s teacher. Here are some important things to remember before, during, and after your child’s parent-teacher conference.

Before the Conference

Talk with your child about how things are going at school. It is important to know your child’s perspective so that you can talk to the teacher about any concerns.

Write down a list of questions and items that you would like to discuss with your child’s teacher. A written list helps to ensure that you do not forget anything and also keeps the conversation on track to make the most of your time.

When possible, schedule the conference at a time when both parents can attend. This communicates to your child’s teacher that education is valued in your home and that you are both involved in your child’s education.

Possible Questions to Ask

  1. What are my child’s strengths/weaknesses?
  2. Does my child ask for help in class?
  3. Does my child participate in class discussions?
  4. How can I help support my child’s learning at home?
  5. Do you have recommendations for activities/books/websites that would benefit my child’s learning?
  6. How is my child getting along with others? Does he/she work well in groups? Does he/she play well at recess?
  7. Are there any social concerns that I should be aware of?
  8. Is my child turning in assignments that represent the work he/she is capable of doing?
  9. Are my child’s skills at grade level?
  10.  How can I help you help my child?

During the Conference

Jot down notes to remember topics and issues discussed. Notes help to be able to review the conference with your spouse if they are unable to attend. Notes also provide you with a tool to help remember the conference discussion and what to follow up on later.

Teachers will generally be prepared to show you a portfolio of your child’s work. If your child’s teacher does not have work samples out, ask to see assignments that reflect your child’s learning.

Remember to keep your questions centered on how your child is doing in school. Don’t waste valuable conference time discussing school policies or other information that you can get outside of the conference time. Parent-teacher conferences should be focused on one thing- your child’s performance and progress in school.

Parent-teacher conferences set the stage for the relationship that you will have with your child’s teacher during the school year. Use this time to get to know the teacher better and to show that you support her in working with your child.

Research shows that the most important factor in your child’s learning is the relationship that your child has with the teacher. Listen to your child’s teacher about ways to support and encourage a positive teacher-student relationship in order to help your child succeed.

After the Conference

Discuss with your child information about the conference. You do not have to review specific details. However, it is helpful to tell your child positive things his teacher said about him, as well as a few areas for growth. Children are usually very curious about what happened at their conferences. A short discussion about the conference helps to show that you, your child’s teacher, and your child are all working together to help your child in school.

Review your notes to see if there are any areas that you need to follow up on. Your child’s conference may have reminded you about other concerns that you need to address.

Teaching is a very demanding and often thankless job. Most teachers spend hours of their own time preparing for parent-teacher conferences. After the conference, consider sending your child’s teacher a thank you note letting her know how much you appreciate all that she does for your child.

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