Make the Most of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

(14 Questions to Ask Your Child’s Teacher)

It’s that time of year again—time to meet and communicate with your child’s teachers. Typically parent-teacher conferences are the most formal means of communication between parents and teachers; they provide a rich opportunity to build communication and understanding between the home and school.

Even still, these conferences can be stressful, and parents often get anxious. Working parents may have to rush to a conference early in the morning before work, take time off at lunch or wait until the end of a long day to meet with teachers. Other parents may be anxious about meeting with their child’s teacher because of their own school-related experiences as a child. This stress and anxiety can lead to strained or shortened conversations between the teacher and parent—which will not benefit them or the child.

To reduce any tension or stress, it’s important for parents to come to the conference well-prepared so that the time can be spent efficiently. Part of that preparation should involve creating a list of questions to ask the teacher. Here are some possible questions based on two, basic age groups:

For Preschool-Aged Children:

  1. How is my child progressing developmentally?
  2.  

  3. Does my child perform really well in some areas that I can reinforce at home?
  4.  

  5. Does my child need special help with anything?
  6.  

  7. Does my child make friends easily?
  8.  

  9. Does my child participate in group activities?
  10.  

  11. What is my child like during the day?
  12.  

  13. What can I do to continue the learning process at home?

For Older Children:

  1. What is my child studying this year?
  2.  

  3. What aspects of school does my child appear to enjoy most?
  4.  

  5. What are my child’s best/worst subjects?
  6.  

  7. How well does my child get along with classmates?
  8.  

  9. Does my child complete assignments regularly?
  10.  

  11. Does my child willingly participate in class activities?
  12.  

  13. Does my child follow directions?
  14.  

  15. Have you noticed any changes in my child’s behavior(s) during the year?
  16.  

  17. What tests has my child had or will my child have this year?
  18.  

  19. What do the test scores tell me about my child’s progress?
  20.  

  21. How does my child handle test-taking?
  22.  

  23. Does my child need help in any academic area or need to be referred to school specialists?
  24.  

  25. How much learning do you require students to do independently?
  26.  

  27. What expectations do you have for students in your classroom?

Remember, what you say during the conference is just as important as what the teacher has to say. As the parent, you are the expert on your child’s personality, including what makes him anxious, what motivates him—and what makes him feel proud. For this reason, it’s best to work together on your child’s behalf. If a problem is identified during the conference, ask for specific examples of the behavior or classroom work so you and the teacher can work together toward a resolution. A good partnership between the home and school will help to ensure that your child gets the best education possible.
Let me hear from you. What suggestions do you have for a productive parent-teacher conference?
Do you have additional questions you typically ask your child’s teacher?
If you have a question for Dr. Lowenstein, visit Ask Dr. Dave at www.http://drlowenstein.com/.