This article provides information on making the most of your meeting and also includes some suggestions for specific questions you can ask your child’s teacher.
What To Do During a Parent-Teacher Conference
Taking time to prepare for a parent-teacher conference can help you feel ready for the meeting and ease any anxiety you may have. During the conference you can also try several techniques to help ensure that you get what you need out of the meeting. Remember, this is an opportunity to talk and strategize with another important adult in your child’s life—so make the most of the meeting!
- Establish a rapport. As an icebreaker, talk about something that reflects well upon the teacher. For example, thank her for having made thoughtful notes on your child's homework or for the special attention in helping your child learn to subtract. This will help build a positive foundation for your relationship.
- Ask questions. Questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for your child’s success in class and for the teacher. It's a good idea to ask your most pressing questions first, in case time runs out. The teacher's answers should help you both work together to help your child. Use the list you developed before the meeting to help guide your conversation. If you don’t have time to discuss all of your questions you can ask about setting up an additional meeting or following up through email.
- Address any challenges. Parent-teacher conferences are a good time to discuss any difficulties (either academic or behavioral) your child might be having at school. Ask the teacher what is being done about these challenges and what strategies seem to help at school. Work together to decide how best to address these challenges and, if needed, schedule a follow-up meeting.
- Develop an action plan. If your child needs support with a behavioral or an academic concern, you and the teacher should agree on specific plans—that you both will work on—to help your child do well. Be sure you understand what the teacher suggests and if it's not clear, ask him to explain. Set up a way to review your child's progress. You and the teacher can decide how to stay in touch, such as through phone calls or emails.
- End on a positive note. Thank your child’s teacher for taking the time to meet with you and, if applicable, for helping develop an action plan for your child. Remember that you both want to see your child succeed at school and therefore you should treat each other like teammates. If the meeting was tense or challenging try to think of one positive outcome from the meeting and share that success with the teacher.
After the parent-teacher conference
When discussing the conference with your child afterward, stress the good things that were covered and be honest about challenges that were identified. If an action plan is in place, explain to your child what was arranged and ask your child for input. You want to set your child up for success and including her in the details of the plan will help. A good way to promote a continuing relationship with the teacher is to say "thank you" with a note or an email. Continuing to keep in touch with her, even if things are going well, can play an important role in helping your child do better in school.