Tips For A Productive Parent/Teacher Conference

If you cannot attend at the scheduled time, please call the school office and the secretary will assist you in making a new appointment.

Did you know that California state law allows parents/guardians to take time from work to attend school conferences and events?

The following is from the section, Advice on Parent-Teacher Conferences: How to Make Parent-Teacher Conferences Work for Your Child

“You've been asked to attend a regularly scheduled “report card” conference with your child's teacher. Or you've gotten a special note from your child's teacher asking to see you. In either case, you might be a little nervous. Well, relax. Teachers don't want to put parents on the spot. They just like to meet with parents from time to time to discuss how to help students do their best in school. All children learn in different ways. They have their own individual personalities, and their own listening and work habits. To help their students learn new knowledge and skills, teachers must know as much as they can about each child's likes and dislikes. No one knows more about these things than you, the parents. And no one has more influence over your children than you. That’s why teachers need your help to do a first-class job. Working together, you and the teacher can help your child have a successful school year.

Here are Some Things to Keep in Mind

  • Start the conference right: be there on time, and plan not to run over the amount of time that has been set aside, usually about 20 minutes.

  • If you are a working parent who can't arrange to meet during regular hours, make this clear to the teacher and try to set up a time to meet that is good for both of you.

  • The best conferences are those in which both teachers and parents stay calm and try hard to work together for one purpose and one purpose only: to help your child do well. Arguing, or blaming each other for problems your child is having, helps no one.

Getting Ready

Each teacher will probably come prepared with samples of your children's work and with ideas to help them do even better in school. You should get ready for each conference, too. Talk to your children before the conference. Find out what they think are their best subjects, and what subjects they like the least. Find out why. Also, ask your children if there is anything they would like you to talk about with their teachers. Make sure your children don't worry about the meeting. Help them understand that you and their teacher(s) are meeting together in order to help them. Before you go to the school, write notes to yourself about:

  • Things about your child's life at home, personality, problems, habits, and hobbies

  • you feel it's important for the teacher to know

  • Your concerns about the school's programs or policies questions about your child's

  • progress

  • How you and the school can work together to help your child

If your spouse can't attend the conference with you, ask for his or her concerns and questions.

The Conference some good questions to ask are these:

  • Is my child in different groups for different subjects? Why?

  • How well does my child get along with others?

  • What are my child's best and worst subjects?

  • Is my child working up to his or her ability?

  • Does my child participate in class discussions and activities?

  • Has my child missed any classes other than ones I contacted the school about?

  • Have you noticed any sudden changes in the way my child acts? For example, have you noticed any squinting, tiredness or moodiness that might be a sign of physical or other problems?

  • What kinds of tests are being done? What do the tests tell about my child's progress? How does my child handle taking tests?

  • It’s a good idea to ask your most important questions first, just in case time runs out before you and the teacher has a chance to discuss them all.

  • Be sure to ask the teacher for specific suggestions on ways to help your child do better. This is the most important part of the meeting. It will become your action plan.

  • If the teacher says something you don't quite understand, don't be shy about asking for an explanation.

  • It's a good idea to end the conference by summing up decisions you've made together.

  • If needed, ask to meet again.

After the Conference

Start immediately on the action plan you and the teacher worked out together. Discuss the
plan with your child. Make sure he or she knows that you and the teacher care. To see if the
action plan is working, watch your child's behavior and check your child's class work and
homework. Stay in regular touch with the teacher to discuss the progress your child is
making. Meeting with your child's teachers should help build strong parent-teacher
partnerships - partnerships that are needed if you and your child's teachers are to reach
your common goal of helping your child get the best education possible.

Here is another set of tips from the National PTA website.
Making Parent/Teacher Conferences Work ForYour Child

A parent–teacher conference is a time when important people in a student's life can talk about how that student is doing in school. It's a chance for you to ask questions about the class or your child's progress. It is also a time for you and the teacher to work together as a team to discuss ways you both can help your son or daughter. Whether your child is in elementary, middle, or secondary school, parent-teacher conferences are important. If your school does not schedule regular conferences, you can request them.

Teachers need your help to do a first-class job. Together, you can help your child have a great school year.

Before the Conference

Schedule an appointment—A parent-teacher conference is not the only time when parents and teachers should make contact. Parents may want to schedule a special meeting with their child's teacher for a variety of reasons. If you need to set up an appointment with the teacher, make a phone call or write a quick note to the teacher, and let him or her know if you have particular issues you would like to discuss.

Talk to your child—Find out which subjects your child likes the best and the least. Ask why. Also, ask if there is anything your child would like you to talk about with the teacher. Help
the child understand that you and the teacher are meeting to help him or her. If your child is in middle or high school, you may want to include him or her in the conference.

Gather input from others—If your spouse, another caregiving adult, or someone with pertinent information or insight (doctor, counselor, other guardians) can't attend the conference, ask for that person's concerns and questions before the conference.

Make a list—Before you go to the meeting, make a list of topics to discuss with the teacher. Along with questions about academics and behavior, you may want to talk to the teacher about the child's home life, personality, concerns, habits and hobbies, and other topics that may help the teacher in working with the child (e. g., religious holidays, music lessons, parttime jobs, a sick relative).

During the Conference

Establish rapport—As an icebreaker, take notice of something that reflects well upon the teacher. For example, thank the teacher for having made thoughtful notes on your child's homework or for the special attention in helping your child learn to multiply.

Ask questions—Questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student's success in class and for the teacher. It's a good idea to ask the important questions first, in case time runs out. The teacher's answers should help you both work together to help your child.

If your child receives special services (e. g., gifted and talented programs, speech or occupational therapy), be sure to ask about the frequency of services and your child's progress.

Addressing problems—Parent-teacher conferences are a good time to discuss any difficulties (either academic or behavioral) a child might be having at school. When problems arise, parents will want to:

Avoid angry or apologetic reactions. Instead, ask for examples.

Ask what is being done about the problem and what strategies seem to help at school.

Develop an action plan that may include steps that parents can take at home and steps the teacher will take when the problem comes up at school.

Schedule a follow-up conference and decide on the best way to stay in touch (phone, e-mail, or letters sent to the home).

Develop an action plan—If the student needs help with a behavioral or an academic issue, you and the teacher should agree on specific plans—that you both will work on—to help your child do better. Be sure you understand what the teacher suggests. If it's not clear, ask him or her to explain. Set up a way to check on your child's progress. You and the teacher can decide how best to stay in touch, such as through phone calls, notes, or additional meetings.

Ending the conference

End the conference by reviewing what you discussed and restating your action plan. This is also a good time to set up your next meeting.

After the Conference

When discussing the conference with the child afterward, stress the good things that were covered and be direct about problems that were identified. If an action plan is in place, explain to the child what was arranged. When an action plan is in place, consider the following: Watch your child's behavior and check on class work and homework. Ask how the student feels about schoolwork. Stay in touch with the teacher to discuss your child's progress. Express appreciation as progress is made. A good way to promote a continuing relationship with the teacher is to say “thank-you” with a note or a telephone call. Continuing to keep in touch with the teacher, even if things are going well, can play an important role in helping the child do better in school. When a child knows parents and teachers are regularly working together, the child will see that education is a high priority requiring commitment and effort.

Reprinted with permission from