parent teacher conference

How to Get the Most Out of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

Published March 1, 2024

As much as we love our children, let’s face it…they’re not the most reliable source when it comes to knowing how well they’re doing in school. How many times have you asked your child how school is going just to be met with a “fine” or a shrug of the shoulders? Parent-teacher conferences are important for getting the whole picture of your child’s educational journey. It’s a great opportunity to check in with your child’s teacher to see how they’re really doing and what they can do to improve. But, as with most things, what you get out of a parent-teacher conference will depend on what you put into it. Here are eight pro tips to help you make the most of your time with your child’s teacher.

1. Make These Meetings a Priority

Some parents only go to a parent-teacher conference if they think there’s a problem. But according to the National Library of Medicine, students do better in the classroom when their parents get involved. Even if your child is doing great at school, you’ll really be doing them a favor if you make a point to meet with their teacher. If none of the times work with your schedule, reach out to the teacher—they’re often happy to find a time that works for both of you.

2. Compile Your Questions in Advance

If you ever have an urgent or time-sensitive question about your child’s education, our teachers are always available via phone or email. But if you have smaller concerns or questions, we recommend keeping a running list and bringing it with you to your parent-teacher conference. This is the perfect time to chat about any and all concerns you might have. And since the meetings are typically fairly short, it helps to come in with a plan to get the most out of the conversation. 

3. Embrace The Feedback

If your child is having issues in school, it can be a natural response to get defensive when their teacher brings these things up. It’s easy to point fingers or deny there’s a problem, but this won’t actually do anything to help your child work through the issues. The feedback isn’t meant to place blame or hurt anyone’s feelings—it’s meant to help your kids learn and grow. Try to take the feedback in the spirit intended—your child’s teacher is on your team and wants to see your child succeed. 

4. Go Beyond the Grades

Your child’s grades are important, and they’ll be a big part of the conversation. But they don’t tell the whole story. Be sure to take the conversation one step further by asking questions like, how is their behavior? How is their morale? Do they get along with their classmates? If your child is struggling with something like autism, dyslexia, self-image, depression, or ADHD, having an open conversation with their teacher can help uncover those challenges and lead to your child getting the help they might need.           

5. Identify Next Steps

You’ll learn a lot from your parent-teacher conference, including what everyone can do to help your child improve. A lot of that follow-through will land on your shoulders as their parent or guardian—does your child have a special gift that should be encouraged at home? Do they need extra help outside of school? Do they need to see a professional for help with behavioral or learning difficulties? There’s usually a solution to every problem, and that solution might require a team effort. In order to do the best for your child, be sure to follow through those next steps you and the teacher identify. 

6. Open Up a Dialogue

These meetings aren’t your only chance to communicate with your child’s teacher and school—they’re parts of a much larger conversation. Be sure to ask the teacher about the best way to keep in touch. Ask how you can get more involved. And if necessary, set a time to reconnect. Opening up communication and forming a strong relationship with your child’s teacher will go a long way toward helping your child succeed in school.   

7. Support the Process from Home

Your child’s teachers do everything they can to help keep them on track, but they’re only with your kids during the day. That’s why it’s so important for you to step into an active role from home. For example, let’s say you just learned that your child hasn’t been turning their homework in on time. That’s okay! Now you know, and you, your child, and their teacher can team up to work on a solution for how your child can better manage their time. But it will be up to you to enforce those solutions when they’re at home.       

8. Talk to Your Kids

These meetings are between you and your child’s teacher, but don’t forget to talk to your kids after the meeting is over and ask them for their side of the story. For instance, maybe you just found out that your child is frequently late to class. It could be that they’re goofing off with their friends, or it could be that they’re facing a problem you don’t know about—perhaps they’re having health issues that keep them stuck in the bathroom for longer than usual, or maybe they’re avoiding a bully and are too afraid to speak up. You never know until you ask!             

Parent-teacher conferences aren’t just meetings—they’re opportunities. And if you want to take full advantage of them, be sure to come in with questions, clarify next steps, and make sure to support the process from home. Your kids go to school during the day, but with your help, they can grow around the clock.

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