10 Keys to a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference

You are your child’s first and most important teacher, and now that your child is in school, you need to partner with the other teachers in your child’s life to work towards your common goal—to have your child learn and do well. A great place to start that collaboration is your child’s parent-teacher conference. Here are *** tips to help you have a parent-teacher conference where everyone wins, especially yourStudents Lying On Floor In Classroom. child.

  1. Do some preparation work. Review your child’s grades, recent homework, and tests. Ask your child if there is anything they would like you to discuss with their teacher. Write down everything that you want to talk to the teacher about at the conference.
  2. Be on time. Most teachers have conferences scheduled one right after the other. Don’t lose any of this limited time with your child’s teacher by making sure you arrive a few minutes before your start time.
  3. Start on a positive note. As a parent, your goal is the success of your child, and your child’s teacher shares that goal. While you may have serious concerns to discuss with your child’s teacher, don’t start by putting them on the defensive. Begin with a compliment (e.g., “My daughter had a great time on the field trip.” or “My son is enjoying the unit on space.”) before moving on to more difficult issues.
  4. Ask your child’s teacher to show, not tell. Have your child’s teacher provide specific examples of your child’s work or behavior. If the teacher says, “Johnny is struggling with math,” ask to see examples where he is having problems. Is it with several topics or just with one specific concept?
  5. Share your child with the teacher. You know your child best, so share that with their teacher. Describe what they’re like at home, what interests and excites them, and what issues at home may be affecting them at school (e.g., parent losing a job, divorce, death in the family).
  6. Focus on learning. Don’t limit the discussion to how your child is doing at school, ask how they can do even better. Refer to the questions in the PTA Parents’ Guides to Student Success and the list of questions your child’s teacher would (probably) love to answer from Edutopia.
  7. Ask how you can help at home. Find out how you can know on a daily basis what homework has been assigned. If your child needs extra help, ask about support services available from the school or community organizations. If your child needs more challenging work, ask how you can help your child dig deeper into what is being learned in the classroom.
  8. Make a plan. You and your child’s teacher have probably both raised points that need further action. Spend the last minute or two of the conference summarizing what you need to follow up on with your child as well as actions the teacher will be taking in the future.
  9. Don’t let the conversation end with the conference. The parent-teacher conference should be the beginning of a year-long conversation with your child’s teacher. Find out what is the best way to contact them with concerns or to set up another time to meet. Do they prefer e-mail? If they share their cell phone number, do they prefer a call or just a text that allows them to call back when convenient? Let your child’s teacher know that you are open to being contacted as well, whether through e-mail, phone calls, or notes home in the Friday Folder.
  10. Talk to your child. Your child was the focus of the parent-teacher conference, so be sure to share with them what you learned. Share the positive things the teacher had to say, then fill them in on any concerns. Let them know how you will be working with them and their teacher going forward and how you will be keeping in touch with their teacher.