How to Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

The parent-teacher conference is an important opportunity to develop a strong partnership with your child's teacher. Most schools schedule regular conferences, but if they don't, you can request them. To make the most of each meeting with your child's teacher, follow these tips from the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association:

Getting Ready

  • Call or write a note to set up an appointment to discuss your concerns.
  • Briefly state your reasons for the meeting so the teacher can prepare.
  • Find out in advance how much time you will have. If you feel that you need more time, let the teacher know.
  • Talk to your child ahead of time to find out if there is anything she would like you to discuss during the meeting. Assure her that you and her teacher are meeting to help her. Consider including your child in the meeting if you think that is appropriate.
  • Make a list of questions and don't be afraid to ask them. Give some thought to the goals you may have for your child and share them with the teacher.

The Conference

Begin the conference on a positive note. Tell the teacher what kind of progress you've noticed and what your child enjoys. Be sure to thank her for meeting with you.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • How much time should your child be spending on assigned homework each night?
  • How much help should I give my child on homework?
  • How are you measuring my child's progress? Through tests? Portfolios of his work? Class participation? Projects? A combination of these?
  • Does my child participate in class discussion and activities?
  • Does she complete and hand in all homework assignments?
  • What future projects are planned?
  • Is my child getting along with the other children?
  • What are the classroom rules and how do you enforce them?

Develop a Plan and Initiate It

If your child is having difficulties, either socially or academically, this is the time to find out if they are school- or home-related, what the teacher can do to help and what assistance you can provide at home.

  • Make notes of the teacher's specific suggestions for helping your child at home.
  • Before you leave the meeting, agree on a specific plan to help your child.
  • Set up a way to check your child's progress. Let the teacher know how to reach you and make sure that you know how to report back to the teacher.
  • Review what you have discussed and restate your action plan.
  • If you do not agree with the teacher, respectfully tell her this and let her know that you will continue to explore the issue further with her.
  • Discuss the plan with your child.
  • Follow through at home, as you have agreed to do.
  • Stay in touch with the teacher to discuss your child's progress and, if necessary, plan a follow-up conference.

© Parenthood.com, used with permission.

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