Attending parent-teacher conferences is a great way to involve yourself in your child’s education. Research shows that students have better school attendance, higher grades, and learn more when their parents are involved in their schooling. These routine meetings, either in person or virtually, will help you learn about your child’s progress. Here are a few helpful tips to better prepare you to get the most out of these meetings:
- Ask important questions
Prior to a parent-teacher conference, write down a few questions or notes that you’d like to discuss with the teacher, such as:
- Questions about your child’s progress (both academic and social-emotional)
- How is my child progressing in class academically and how are his/her interactions with peers?
- Questions about classroom or school policies
- What classroom routines and procedures should I be aware of?
- Questions about current units of study, classwork, and assignments
- What are you currently teaching in class and how can I help my child practice at home?
- Share about your child’s life outside of school (e.g., sports or hobbies, study/homework habits, friends, family life, etc.)
Don’t be afraid to be candid with your child’s teacher! Clear communication between families and teachers paves the way for student success.
2. Review your child’s recent work
As a former teacher, I was a big data collector. I loved storing away student work, assignments, projects, and tests/quizzes to pull out and showcase to parents during conferences. I loved it even more when parents brought in their own collection of student samples! This can help clarify any questions you might have about your child’s progress. For example, “I see that my child really struggled with this most recent multiplication quiz. Is this consistent with what you see in class?” Asking these questions about your child’s work may help you uncover patterns, and can even shed some light on what the teacher can be doing to better help your child.
3. Discuss next steps for growth
Whether I had a student that was excelling at grade level material or struggling with current coursework, I almost always had parents ask me what they could do with their children outside of the classroom to help them grow. Ask your child’s teacher what resources they recommend using for additional practice. Online learning tools are also a great way to help support your child in their learning routine at home. Some of my personal favorites include Vocabulary.com’s word practice and activities, educational games on ABCya, and IXL’s adaptive skill practice for math, English language arts, science, social studies, and Spanish.
4. Keep lines of communication open
Finally, be sure to ask the teacher whether any websites, apps, or communication tools are used to share class news and current events. Spending time connecting with other families will further expand your child’s network of support. Whether you’re making class party or field trip plans, or discussing the most recent test or project, engaging with the platform your child’s class uses for communication will keep you involved and up to date.
5. Check in with your child
After the parent-teacher conference, discuss important takeaways from the meeting with your child if they were unable to attend. You could make plans for your child to attend the following meeting, or even initiate a student-led conference in the future. Involving students in their growth plan is key to helping them take responsibility for their own learning.
6. Follow up and stay in touch
Continue to keep in touch with your child’s teacher throughout the school year. With regular updates and check-ins, you will be working together on the same team to help your child grow and be successful, happy, and healthy.