Getting the Most from a Parent-Teacher Conference

These opportunities to meet the teacher and discuss your child are golden ones for parents. Take advantage of them.

By FamilyTime


Research shows that for children to excel in school, parents must take part in the educational process. Parent-teacher conferences offer good opportunities for involvement.

Nearly all schools, both public and private, schedule regular conferences during the year. These usually are held in the fall and spring and coincide with report cards.

Most teachers make themselves available to parents who request additional meetings. Teachers, too, may suggest extra conferences.

Schedule the Conference
For stay-at-home parents and those who work near the school, scheduling may be easy. For others, teachers usually are willing to plan early-morning, late-afternoon or evening meetings.

Make every effort to find a time when both parents can attend.

Keep in mind that the teacher must schedule numerous conferences. Try to make special requests reasonable. Some companies allow time off to attend these meetings.

Prepare for the Conference
Keep track of what your child is studying by reviewing his homework assignments. Talk to her about difficulties and anxieties before the conference.

Remember to ask your student, too, what he particularly likes about the teacher and the class. Mention these to the teacher.

Make notes. Even a few cogent scribbles jog the memory. Keep an ongoing list as the school year progresses so that you can raise questions later.

If there is a pressing problem, don't wait for the regularly scheduled conference. Call the teacher immediately and arrange an appointment. 

During the Conference
Chances are you have seen the classroom before the conference. If not, take a good look at the bulletin boards, displays, and other items. Question the teacher about anything you don't understand. Compliment him or her on things you like.

No question is too silly or inconsequential. Don't be shy - but resist any temptation to turn the conference into a "gripe session." Think constructively.

You won't solve problems without hearing what the teacher has to say. Ask the teacher how you can work together to make your child happier and more productive.

For example, if the teacher is worried that the student rarely completes homework assignments, offer to work with your child every night. If the child is frequently tardy, agree to investigate the reasons why.

Present your questions and ideas from the perspective of being a partner in your child's education.

Make a date to call the teacher and check on progress.

After the Conference
Write a brief synopsis of the conference. Refer to it before the next one.

Talk to your child about the meeting. Kids love hearing about them. Discuss any plans that involve the child and ask for input.

Make sure your child understands that you and the teacher are working together in his best interest. She should know that her success is of utmost importance to both you and the teacher. This will send the message that it should be important to the student, too.