How to Get the Most Out of Your Conferences

Submitted by Elementary School Counselors

Parent-teacher conferences can be stressful for teachers and the parents.  As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. You and your child’s school have something in common: You both want your child to learn and do well. When parents and teachers talk to each other, each person can share important information about your child’s talents and needs. Each person can also learn something new about how to help your child. Parent–teacher conferences are a great way to start talking to your child’s teachers.  Below are suggestions that can help make the most of parent-teacher conferences.

  • A two-way conversation. Like all good conversations, parent–teacher conferences are best when both people talk and listen. The conference is a time for you to learn about your child’s progress in school.
  • Emphasis on learning. Good parent–teacher conferences should focus on how well the child is doing in school. They also talk about how the child can do even better. To get ready for this conversation, look at your child’s homework and tests before the conference. Be sure to bring a list of questions that you would like to ask the teacher.
  • Opportunities and challenges. Just like you, teachers want your child to succeed. You will probably hear positive feedback about your child’s progress and areas for improvement.
  • Progress. Find out how your child is doing by asking questions like: Is my child performing at grade level? How he or she is doing compared to the rest of the class? What do you see as his or her strengths? How could he or she improve?
  • Support learning at home. Ask what you can do at home to help your child.
  • Make a plan. Determine the teacher’s expectations and work together with the teacher to develop a plan that you both think will work. It is a good idea to focus on one problem at a time so that the child will not be overwhelmed and will have a better chance of success. It is also important to determine if the child has control over what he is doing.  Write down the things that you and the teacher will each do to support your child. You can do this during the conference or after. Make plans to check in with the teacher in the coming weeks and months.
  • Talk to your child. The parent–teacher conference is all about your child, so don’t forget to include him or her. Share with your child what you learned. Show him or her how you will help with learning at home. Ask for his or her ideas.
  • Do not stay beyond your allotted time. If you find more time is needed, plan a follow-up meeting with the teacher.

Conferencing is a wonderful tool to open communication for both parents and teachers.  Enjoy the time together and know you are both working toward supporting and teaching your child.

Some information gathered from Parent –Teacher conferences: Working as a Team and Making the Most Out of Your Parent Teacher Conferences.