A Guide to Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are an opportunity for parents to check in on their children's progress in school. They give parents a chance to build positive relationships with educators at their children's school so they can work together on behalf of their children.

Conferences provide valuable time for parents to talk with teachers about grades, and to talk more generally about their children's academic progress, rather than focusing on a single number or letter. There are other areas in which children grow and learn, including social and emotional skills. Parents and teachers can use conference time to discuss concerns or questions about these areas as well. They are a chance for parents to learn how to be more involved in children's education and to support academic, social, and emotional growth and achievement. When parents and educators view student learning as a partnership, everyone benefits, especially the students.

Tips for parents before the conference

  • Talk with your child about school. Discuss what is going well and what is not going well and if there is anything you should discuss with the teacher.
  • Make a list of topics you want to discuss at the conference and questions you have for the educators in the building.
  • Pack your list, paper, and a pen so that you can make notes and jot down important things during the conference.

During the Conference

  • View the conference as a conversation between two individuals who care about your child and his/her progress.
  • Begin with positive comments about the teacher and the school, but do not be afraid to discuss worries or concerns.
  • Listen attentively and ask questions. Repeat back what the teacher is saying in your own words to make sure you understand. Ask for clarification on anything you do not understand.
  • Take notes as needed so that you can follow up with your child and the teacher later.
  • Respect the timeframe you are given. Arrive on time, and leave when your time is finished. If there is still more to discuss, schedule another meeting or arrange for another way to communicate.
  • Provide the teacher with your preferred method of contact and the best time(s) of day to contact you.

After the Conference

  • Talk with your child about the conference – share information you were pleased to hear, as well as any concerns.
  • Follow up with any information you think would be useful for the teacher to have or anything that you promised to provide to the teacher.
  • Develop an action plan with your child to keep improving. Monitor your child's progress with the action plan.
  • Keep in touch with the teacher, noting areas of improvement and areas of concern. Suggest times for a follow-up conference, if desired, and ask how else you can assist in your child's learning.

Questions to Ask During the Conference

  • How can I stay involved in my child's academic progress? What can I do to complement what is happening in the classroom?
  • What are your goals for the students this year? For my child? How will you assist students to meet those goals?
  • How will students be evaluated? What type of information do you use to evaluate students? How are grades determined?
  • How are students' individual needs met? How do you accommodate for differences in learning? Are you available for tutoring, remediation, and other assistance? If so, when?
  • What is the best way to contact you if I have a concern or question?
  • Are there other educators in the building who I should meet? If so, who are they, and how do you see their work as benefiting my child?

Parent-Teacher Conferences can be excellent opportunities for positive interaction.