As a parent, you are the most important advocate for your child.
You want them to be both happy and prepared for success in school. Your child’s teacher wants that as well. This is the foundation for a strong parent-teacher partnership. Family-Teacher Conferences are an important part of that foundation. It’s also a great way to learn about your child’s academic progress and share important information that supports daily teacher-child interactions.
The following tips will help ensure you are prepared before, during, and after, so you can have the best possible experience and outcome.
Before the Conference:
- Make a list of questions you want to ask, such as understanding group activity participation or wondering about the daily routine.
- Make a list of concerns too. For example, if your child complains of a stomachache every morning before coming to school, you’ll want to talk to the teacher about it.
- Consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Are they excelling in math, but not so good at making new friends?
- Reflect on what may be happening at home that could affect learning or actions in the classroom. For example, your child may be taking a new medication or maybe a grandparent has moved in. Even things that seem small or positive can affect a child’s mood or behavior.
During the Conference:
- Make sure to ask your questions and bring up any concerns you have. Teachers want your child to succeed, just like you, and a two-way conversation is the best way for this to happen. If you are unsure what the teacher is saying, ask for clarification.
- Share what you think your child is good at and what your child may need more help with. You might be surprised by who they are in the classroom. Perhaps they’re more adept at making friends than you thought and, instead, need additional math help.
- An effective Family-Teacher Conference focuses on what your child does well, as well as the areas your child could improve on. If you are unsure of how you can help—ask!
- Share details about your home life that could impact your child’s learning. If you feel your child needs extra assistance, you can ask what services are available for support.
After the Conference:
- Talk to your child so she/he knows what was discussed. Share the positive comments, along with ways you intend to help them improve. This might include a simple change in routine, like reading a book together before bed. Explain why the change is important.
- If there are issues that need to be addressed, leave with a concrete action plan so both you and your child’s teacher know what the next steps are. You could also set up another conference time to review the plan. For example, what is working or what isn’t working? This would also be a great time to talk about future action steps.
Remember, the main objective is for you to have a better understanding of your child’s life at school and for the teacher to have a better understanding of your child at home. Effective Family-Teacher Conferences help build a working partnership between you and the teacher that will benefit your child.