Top 10 Tips To Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are usually held in late September and October. Our school district is scheduled to have parent-teacher conferences in the next couple of weeks so I was on the quest to find out how I could make the maximum use of this one-on-one time with the teacher. In my research, I came across this hilarious (yet a little serious) video which shows the parent blaming the teacher for everything wrong with her son.

I could imagine myself standing there trying to hold the teacher accountable for all the shortcomings of my child and myself. But, is that fair? A teacher is there to teach but we as parents are equally (maybe, even more) responsible to support the teachings and act as trainers for our children. It is such an easy way out of everything to blame others. We need to work as a team so that our children may flourish in a healthy environment and succeed in life. On talking to many parents who have older children, I have come up with these tips to make the most of your parent-teacher conferences.

Tips for Successful Conference:

  1. Prepare early (not the day of or night before): Create a file in which you can store homework assignments, test scores, big projects and previous report cards. Keep track of what your child has told you by taking notes. Look for patterns in your child’s school work and jot down any struggles, ongoing problems and even improvements there might be.
  2. Talk with your child: Find out both the positive and negative feedback your child might have. Ask your child which subjects he/she likes the best and the least and ask why. Share with your child that you and the teacher are meeting to help him/her. Ask if he/she wants to share anything with the teacher. If your child is in middle or high school, you may want to include him or her in the conference.
  3. Make a list: Before you attend the conference, prioritize your concerns and questions and make a list of topics to discuss with the teacher. Include questions about academics, social & emotional behavior, about your the child’s home life, personality, hobbies, and other topics that may help the teacher in working with the child.
  4. Enter with the right attitude: Don’t enter the meeting as if you are out there to get the teacher. Establish a rapport with the teacher and remember the teacher wants to see your child succeed too. I know it’s hard discussing tough issues but rather than be defensive with the teacher, start off with a compliment. Maybe say how your child is really enjoying the space, or is having a great time during the literacy block. Then address any concerns in the right tone.
  5. Ask Questions: Feel free to ask general questions like communication protocols (via email/phone/mail), gifted programs, special education etc. Only make sure you have got your most important questions answered first.
  6. Addressing Issues: Conferences are a good time to discuss any difficulties (either academic or behavioral) a child might be having at school. When problems arise ask what is being done about the problem and what strategies seem to help at school, and schedule a follow-up conference.
  7. Creating an Action Plan: If your child needs help with an issue, you and the teacher should agree on a specific plan to help your child do better. Understand what the teacher suggests and if it’s not clear, ask the teacher to explain further. Keep check on your child’s progress. There is no use of an action plan, if there is no follow-up. So keep in touch with the teacher.
  8. Update your child: After the conference, sit with your child and discuss the good and the bad. Assure him that the problems identified will be addressed with the help of the action plan. Watch your child’s behavior and check his/her assignments.
  9. Follow-Up: If you came up with an action plan, put the steps in motion.
  10. Say Thank-You: Show your appreciation by sending a thank-you note or email to the teacher for taking her time to discuss your child and helping out.

Lesson Learned: BE THERE FOR MY CHILD!

If you have other tips to make the most of parent-teacher conferences, please feel free to share in the comments below…


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