Finally, the time has arrived for you to attend parent teacher conferences. You can learn about how your child is actually doing in class. Are they a star student? Are they the class clown? Will they take at least pass to the next grade? There are many questions for parent teacher conferences, but how can you make the most out of those 15-20 minutes you have face to face with your child’s teacher?
Each stage brings on new questions. In elementary you want to know if your child has friends, or if they are being nice in school. By middle school you want to know if they are applying themselves and getting the work done. And in High school you wonder if they are doing enough to get into a good school, or get a decent job when they graduate. But the question remains, are you asking the right questions to actually get the information you want to know?
The Ugly Truth About Teachers
Teachers hate confrontation. They got into the business of teaching because they love children, and most often they are “people pleasers”. They often want to bring joy and happiness into your life and they don’t want to disappoint you.
Unfortunately this means that at conferences, you often get a “soft” truth as to what is actually happening in the classroom. Teachers are just too kind. We are taught to “sandwich the negativity” – Give a compliment, share the concern, but end with a positive. The hard part is then the parents don’t necessarily hear what the problem or concern is.
How can a parent then actually know what is happening with their child? Parents need to really listen and know what questions to ask. Otherwise, a small concern can grow into a much larger problem over time.
Questions for Parent Teacher Conferences
The following are questions that you can be prepared to ask at parent teacher conferences. The questions are broken into the three different levels but feel free to use the questions at multiple levels.
Teachers will have information to share with you at conference, but make sure that you also come prepared to ask the right questions.
- Does my child have friends in class?
- Is my child nice to other students?
- Does my child play nicely with others?
- Does my child handle transitioning well (or moving from one activity to another)?
- Is my child able to follow the teacher’s directions?
- Is my child performing at grade level?
- Does my child need extra help with anything?
- How can I help support what you are doing in the classroom?
- How is my child doing socially?
- How can I help my child stay on top of all their different classes?
- What type of student is my child?
- Is my child respectful?
- How do I help my child gain independence?
- How are my child’s organizational skills? What can I do to help?
- What can I do to make my child get excited about reading? Any books you could recommend?
- How are you challenging my child?
- Is my child able to work in a group?
- Are they trying their best?
- What do you enjoy most about my child?
- Is my child inquisitive?
- What could my child do that they aren’t already doing?
- Is my child a critical thinker?
- What does my child need to do to be prepared for college? Career?
- What activities can my child get involved in?
Parent Should Share too
Although you may have many questions to ask, it is also important to share information about what is happening at home. This gives the teacher insight into your child’s true identity. Children often act differently than they do at school, so sharing this with a teacher can help them work with them at school better.
You can talk about what they may be struggling with at home. This might relate to the homework, academics, feeling overwhelmed, or even social situations.
Give insight to your child’s teacher by sharing what you think makes your child unique. If your child struggles, you can also share strategies you use to help your child at home.
Questions to Ask the Teacher
It may help for you to understand your child’s teacher so don’t be afraid to ask them questions too. Use these questions to give you insight into them as a teacher.
- Why did you go into teaching?
- Anything you love to teach?
- What are some of your outside passions that you like to bring into the classroom?
- Looking at your current class, what is your favorite thing about them?
- What is your favorite way to learn?
Overall, don’t hesitate to speak up at conferences. If you have big concerns or don’t feel that you have gotten all of your questions answered, don’t hesitate to set up an additional meeting. Your child spends a large portion of their day at school and if you create a partnership with your child’s teachers, they will have a greater chance of success academically, socially and emotionally.