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Parent-Teacher Conference Tips

Parent-teacher conference is a time when important people in your child’s life can talk about how he/she is doing in school. It’s a chance for you to ask questions about the class or your child’s progress. It is also a time for you and the teacher to work together as a team to discuss ways you both can help your son or daughter.

Whether your child is in elementary, middle, or secondary school, parent-teacher conferences are important. If your school does not schedule regular conferences, you can request them.

Teachers need your help to do a first-class job. Together, you can help your child have a great school year.

Before the conference

Talk to your child:

Find out which subjects your child likes the best and the least. Ask why. Also, ask if there is anything your child would like you to talk about with the teacher. Help the child understand that you and the teacher are meeting to help him or her. If your child is in middle or high school, you may want to include him or her in the conference.

Make a list:

Before you go to the conference, make a list of topics to discuss with the teacher. Questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student’s success in class and for the teacher. Along with questions about academics and behavior, you may want to talk to the teacher about the child’s home life, personality, concerns, habits and hobbies, and other topics that may help the teacher in working with the child (e.g., religious holidays, music lessons, part-time jobs, a sick relative).

During the conference

Establish rapport:

Take notice of something that reflects well upon the teacher. For example, thank the teacher for having made thoughtful notes on your child’s homework or for the special attention in helping your child learn to multiply.

Ask questions:

Refer to the list you’ve made. It is a good idea to ask the important questions first, in case time runs out. Also ask what is being done about the problem and what strategies seem to help at school.

Develop an action plan:

If the student needs help with a behavioral or an academic issue, you and the teacher should agree on specific plans-that you both will work on-to help your child do better. Plans will include steps parents can take at home and steps the teacher will take when the problem comes up at school. Be sure you understand what the teacher suggests.

After the conference

Talk to your child:

Stress the good things that were covered and be direct about problems that were identified. If an action plan is in place, explain to the child what was arranged. When an action plan is in place, consider the following: Watch your child’s behavior and check on classwork and homework. Ask how the student feels about schoolwork. Stay in touch with the teacher to discuss your child’s progress, and make sure to express appreciation as progress is made.

Continue relationship with teacher:

A good way to promote a continuing relationship with the teacher is to say “thank-you” with a note or a telephone call. Continuing to keep in touch with the teacher, even if things are going well, can play an important role in helping the child do better in school. When a child knows parents and teachers are regularly working together, the child will see that education is a high priority requiring commitment and effort.

Sample questions

Ask the teacher about your child’s academic work: strengths, areas in need of improvement, current level, and academic focus of the classroom. If your child is having any academic difficulties, ask about specific things you can do to support your child at home. In addition, ask the teacher how he/she views your child’s emotional and social skills, whom your child socializes with, and how he relates with peers and adults.

Ask about the school:

  • How is the school working to keep students on track and/or raise achievement?
  • How can I stay aware of what my child’s assignments are and how my child is doing in class?
  • What are students expected to master by the end of the year? How will you be gauging my child’s progress toward these goals?
  • If my child is falling behind, how will I be notified?

Ask about your child:

  • What are my child’s academic strengths? What areas need improvement?
  • What is my child’s current achievement level and how does it compare with other students in the same age group?
  • What specific things can I do to support my child and reinforce classroom lessons at home?
  • How do you view my child’s emotional and social skills?
  • With whom does my child socialize? How does my child relate to peers and adults?
  • Is my child able to work both in groups and independently?
  • Does my child exhibit a good attitude toward learning? Does my child make a good effort on assignments and turn in completed assignments?
  • Does my child stay on task well or need frequent reminders? Has my child been developing good work habits?
  • Does my child participate in class? Does my child behave in class?
  • How much time should my child be spending on homework each night?
  • Have you noticed any issues that need to be addressed or interests to be encouraged?