Can you believe it’s that time of year already? Our kids have already been in school for 2 months. They are coming home with homework, participating in school clubs and making new friends. And now, It’s time for Parent/Teacher Conferences!
If you were unable to attend Back to School Night, this may be the first time you are meeting your child’s teacher. For other parents, you may have already met with your child’s teacher more times than you care to admit. This may be your first or your 12th parent/teacher conference. Either way, it is important to go prepared!
Parent/Teacher conferences are a great way to learn all about how your child is performing in school. It is also when you can learn about your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Since your teacher has limited time to meet with each parent, it is very important to arrive to your conference prepared. In order to help make your Parent/Teacher conference effective and successful, I have devised a list of tips!
10 Tips for Preparing for Parent/Teacher Conferences
1. Mark Your Calendar! This may sound simple, but it is so important to make sure your date and time is ingrained in your mind. Knowing when your conference is will help make planning easier. Marking every calendar also helps ensure that you won’t forget!
2. Talk to your child about school! Asking your child about school each day will help you better understand how they are doing and what you need to ask the teacher about. If your child is complaining about a certain student frequently, then you know you need to ask the teacher about it. If your child is always talking about having trouble in math, then you know that will be a focus of your conference.
3. Review your child’s homework every night! When you sit down with your child and help them or at least review the assignments when they are complete, you can get a better understanding of what they are struggling with (if anything). This will help you focus your questions on areas of need.
4. Create a list of questions or concerns! Making a list will help you stay on-task and focused during your conference. It will also ensure that you ask exactly what you want to ask. Let’s face it moms, relying on our memory is not the way to go anymore!
5. Email your questions to the teacher ahead of time! Sending over your questions and concerns before the conference allows the teacher to prepare more and provides them with time to gather the answers (and data to show if needed). Remember, conference times are very limited so if the teacher already knows your concerns, they can address them more effectively at the conference.
6. Bring your questions with you! Even if you emailed the teacher, it is important to bring the questions with you. This will help you remember exactly what you need to ask. Leave space under each question so you can take notes. This will also allow you to jot down more questions that you may want to ask during conferences or email at a later date.
7. Provide the teacher with ALL your contact information! I cannot tell you how frustrating it is for a teacher (or Child Study Team member like me) when a parent cannot be reached. Providing your teacher with your home, cell and work numbers along with personal and work emails is extremely helpful. You can specify which number and email should be used first, but alternatives are needed for emergencies as well as when a teacher needs discuss academic struggles your child is experiencing.
8. Ask the right questions! It is so important to ask effective and useful questions at conferences. What are the right questions you ask? Well, that is hard to say because it depends on your child’s need, but my advice is to stay focused. If your child is struggling with math, please do not waste time asking about library time or when the next field trip will be. The Parent/Teacher Conference is your time to ask about your child’s academic and learning needs. You can focus on minor questions like “When is the holiday party?” through emails or letters to the teacher.
Here are some question examples:
- What can I do at home to help my child?
- How are my child’s organizational skills? How can I help improve them?
- What is my child’s reading level?
- What are some book suggestions to improve reading skills?
- How does my child get along with his peers?
- What is the best way to contact you (the teacher) when I have concerns?
- Are there any big projects coming up that I should be aware of?
Looking for more questions to ask? Check out our article on Questions to Ask at Back to School Night!
9. Share important information! In order to best reach children, it is important to understand their emotional needs as well as their academic needs. That is why it is vital that you let the teacher know what is going on at home. That does not mean sharing every detail, but let them know if there is an impending divorce, sick grandparent or the anniversary of a death that has impacted your child. Knowing this information can help a teacher understand why a child may be withdrawn, upset or unfocused.
10. Don’t get defensive! I know it can be hard not to get upset or defensive, but remember that your child’s teacher is just trying to help your child. Take in the information and process it fully before getting angry or annoyed. This is another reason to send questions and concerns in advance because the teacher can let you know ahead of time if something important needs to be discussed.
I hope you have found this list helpful. If you have any additional tips you would like to share, please comment below! Have fun!