As the holidays are now behind us and we are well underway with second semester with our school-aged children, it’s just about time for round two of Parent-Teacher conferences. As an educator, I often conduct one-sided parent-teacher conferences where parents listen, but don’t have any questions of their own. While it makes for an easy conference, it’s not one that helps me get to know your student better and it doesn’t allow you as the parent to learn any more about your student that the teacher may not address.
I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of helpful tips and questions you could use in your child’s upcoming conference. You don’t have to save these tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences alone; feel free to use them throughout the year to check in on how your child’s doing in school. It’s always a good idea to have an open line of communication with your child’s teacher, even if it is causal and not directly related to a specific situation.
- Forget the test scores; ask how your child is as a person in the class.
Tests scores are important yadda, blah, blah, but you know what’s really important? How your child is doing socially in class. How are they doing emotionally? How do they treat other students in class and how do they interact? Are they an includer or excluder? These are the things that are truly important and things that can be missed at home.
- Your child’s teacher is on your team; let them know how your child is doing at home to better help you child succeed at school.
Changes in the student’s home life that may affect behavior at school is good for the teacher to know. As an educator, I find it helpful to know if a student is moving to a new home or if their grandparents passed away. These are things that can be very insightful to a teacher. I will occasionally email my daughter’s teacher checking in on her and letting the teacher know we had a rough morning. I have a strong-willed middle child and there are mornings that we have tears and a rough start to our day. I hate sending my child to school after we’ve had a rough morning, but it happens, and I just want her teacher to know, just in case she’s off a bit at school.
- Okay, academics are important. It’s okay to ask about those, too.
Asking questions about whether your student in on grade level in reading and math are important questions, but ask deeper questions like things you can do to help your child become a better reader. Or how you can develop a love for reading in your child. Teachers have a ton of strategies and resources they are happy to share with parents.
- Ask how can you support your child at home to help them in the classroom.
This seems like a no brainer, but it’s important to understand what the teacher expects of parents in terms of home support. During 2nd semester conferences, it’s important to acknowledge how the first semester went and any changes that can be made in the routine for 2nd semester. For example, one year one of my daughters struggled terribly with sight word memorization. It was a dreaded time almost every night. A quick conversation with the teacher at conferences offered some new ideas and a fresh outlook on the dreaded time.
- Bring a little treat.
This last one is less of a question and more of a suggestion. Teachers sit at parent-teacher conferences for hours at a time, sometimes having difficult conversations with parents. It’s a stress-filled time, and I promise that a little treat like their favorite drink or small snack will mean the world to them.They’ll be so appreciative that you took the time to think of them. They spend hours upon hours a day loving on our children and a little treat is the least we can do. Even a little handwritten note of appreciation is an amazing gesture that the teacher truly appreciates.
The parent-teacher relationship is an integral part of our student’s development. It should be a partnership that fosters our children’s opinions about education. Hopefully, one that affords them a lifelong love of learning. Parent-teacher conferences are one way that we, as parents, can connect with our child’s teacher and we must take advantage of the time we have. So I challenge you, parents and teachers alike, what is one question you like to ask at Parent-Teacher Conferences?