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A parent-teacher conference is important for students, caregivers, and educators.

Parents can make the most of the time with their child’s teacher by preparing in advance. With so many parents and guardians to see at these events, teachers don’t get to spend as much time as they’d like with each student’s parents.

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20 questions to ask at your parent-teacher conference

If caregivers identify what they want to focus on in advance, it can help to ensure parent-teacher conferences provide value for all involved.

Questions about your child

Giving and receiving about your child is crucial at parent-teacher conferences. As well as obtaining information about what’s happening at school, parents can help teachers by providing them with key information regarding their child’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, and home life.

Examples of helpful questions include:

1. How is my child emotionally?

Ask your child’s teacher whether they appear happy at school and are active in class and the playground. Ensuring your son or daughter is happy is vital to a fulfilling school experience, so don’t be afraid to voice any concerns you may have.

2. What are my child’s strengths?

Teachers should tell you about any issues your child may have, but it’s important to hear the good news too. Ask your child’s teachers what strengths they’ve identified and what areas they are performing particularly well.

3. How does my child perform socially?

Knowing how your child interacts with his or her peers is important so ask your child’s teacher how they’re getting along socially at school. Find out whether your son or daughter plays with other students in the playground and whether participation in an after-school activity may help them to develop socially.

4. May I tell you what’s happening at home?

Any changes in a student’s home life can impact their behavior and attainment in school. If anything has changed at home, let your child’s teacher know so they can offer extra support when appropriate.

5. May I tell you a little more about my child?

If you’re son or daughter is starting a new class or grade, the teacher may not know them very well yet. Telling the teacher how well your child focuses, their strengths, and when they might need additional support can help foster a good working relationship.

6. What needs improvement?

Asking your child’s teacher to tell you what areas require improvement will ensure you can provide relevant at-home support. For example, if your child is struggling with spelling, you can spend more time on this at home.

Academic performance questions

Once you’ve obtained and disclosed relevant information about your child, you can begin to focus on their academic performance and attainment.

These questions may include the following:

7. What extra help shall we provide?

If your child needs help from a tutor, extra encouragement with homework, or helps to stay on track, the teacher will be able to work with you to create an effective strategy. This will ensure you can deliver the additional help they need, regardless of their struggling area.

8. Is my child staying on track?

Ask your child’s teacher what your child’s attainment goals are and where they are performing now. Find out if this performance is what the teacher expected and, if not, what you can do to help improve your child’s attainment level.

9. Is my child falling behind in any subjects?

If your child struggles at school, it’s important to know as quickly as possible. By identifying any potential problem areas, you can work with your child’s teacher to help them.

10. What do these results mean?

Students take various tests and carry out numerous assignments at school, so it can be hard to know which are most important and what the results mean. Always ask the teacher if you’re unsure what your child’s results mean and whether you need to take action.

11. Is my child putting enough effort in?

Find out if your child is rushing their work, slacking off, or putting minimal effort into their studies. If so, you can offer structured homework time when your child returns home from school and help them stay on track.

Special needs questions

A parent-teacher conference provides a great opportunity to ask specific need-related questions if your child has been diagnosed with any special needs. These specific special needs questions include:

12. Are you aware of my child’s IEP?

If your child already has an IEP, ensure the teacher is aware of it and its contents. The IEP should set out your child’s objectives in school and strategies to achieve them, so their class teacher must be fully briefed on what it contains.

13. How is the school accommodating my child’s needs?

Ask your child’s teacher how they’re implementing their IEP daily and whether your child is on target to achieve his or her goals. If you’re unhappy with the existing routine, ask how it can be improved so their IEP goals can be met.

14. How does the school deal with special needs?

Finding out how your child’s school responds to special needs diagnoses is essential. If your child doesn’t have an Individualized Education Program yet, ask your child’s teacher when the assessment will take place and what it involves. It’s a good idea to do this in writing, so you can keep track of when things should be underway.

Tricky situation questions

Students may face issues at school from time to time, and a parent-teacher conference may be a good time to raise them. Collaborating with your child’s teacher and taking a joint approach can help to resolve issues far more quickly than being combative, so work with school staff if you can.

When a pupil is facing a tricky situation in school, the following questions may help:

15. Can you tell me more about this situation?

Children aren’t always adept at giving their parents the full story, so if your child is complaining about the school, you may want to check what’s happening. Asking a teacher to clarify the details will ensure you have the full picture and allow you to broach the subject without apportioning blame.

16. Can you tell me more about your teaching method?

If parents have concerns about how their child is being taught, raising them at a parent-teacher meeting is appropriate. However, criticizing a teacher may make them defensive, which isn’t the best foundation for a good parent-teacher relationship. Instead, ask your child’s teachers about their teaching methods and how they work in the classroom. If your child isn’t responding well to current teaching methods, ask how you can support your child and whether any variations on content delivery are available.

17. What do you advise?

Asking your child’s teachers for advice is a great way to find out how you can support your child. It’s not unusual for children to face difficult situations at school; experienced teachers are familiar with the issues that may arise in a school setting. Getting advice on how to cope with a specific situation will ensure it’s resolved as quickly as possible.

18. May I tell you my concerns?

If you’re worried about your child or aware of a tricky situation they’re experiencing, share it with your child’s teachers. If they aren’t already aware, this information can help them put a problem-solving strategy in place. If they are aware of any issues, additional information can be helpful.

General information questions

Before you leave a parent-teacher conference, confirming a few general details can be helpful. It’s easy to forget these types of questions, so it may be useful to jot them down before the conference begins. These may include:

19. Can I contact you?

Asking whether you can contact your child’s teachers and what their contact details allow them to tell you their preferred contact methods. Phoning the school may not be the best way to contact your child’s teacher, as they’ll likely be in class when you ring. In non-urgent situations, teachers may prefer you contact them by email so that they respond outside of teaching hours.

20. How can I help?

Ask your teacher what support you can offer your child, his or her class, and the school. Schools require regular assistance from parents, so there are likely to be numerous volunteer opportunities for you to get involved with.

Concluding parent-teacher conference

Remember – parent-teacher conferences are usually limited by time, and you may not have the opportunity to discuss everything you want to with your child’s teacher. If there is more ground to cover, ask the teacher if it is possible to have a follow-up meeting so you can discuss any issues in more detail.

Parental involvement in schools is a hot topic, and students tend to perform better when their parents or caregivers take an active role in their education. If you cannot attend a parent’s evening or meeting, contact your child’s teacher and tell them why. In some cases, teachers can offer you a meeting on an alternative day or at an alternative time.

Parent-teacher meetings are an opportunity to discuss your child and his or her performance with school staff. Although this includes positive feedback, it’s also a chance for both parties to raise any concerns or issues. When doing so, remember to do so calmly and with an end goal in mind. Your child will be under the supervision of their teacher for an entire academic year, and it’s always best if parents, caregivers, and teachers can work together in partnership.