Five steps to a successful parent-teacher conference

By Jesse James, Staff

Parent-teacher conferences are one of the few times teachers focus entirely on parent communication. Read on to find out how to make the most out of this valuable meeting.

Just showing up for a parent-teacher conference tells the teacher that you support your child’s learning. Here are five suggestions about what to discuss with the teacher:

  1. Learn about your child’s progress. It’s important to find out how your child is progressing academically as well as how he interacts with his peers, if he participates in class and if he is well behaved. Listen carefully to what your child’s teacher says, and ask yourself if you note similar patterns at home. If your child is in middle or high school, ask about whether he is on track for college.
  2. Share your insights with your child’s teacher. A conference is a good opportunity to hear from your child’s teacher, but it’s also a perfect time to share your perspective. Remember, you know your child best. You can give the teacher valuable information that could help your child learn more effectively.
  3. Be informed about the achievement scores for your child’s school. In this age of standards and accountability, test scores are increasingly important. To find the test scores for your child’s school, go to’s school profiles and type in the school name. If the scores are strong, ask how the school is working to keep students on track. If the scores are low, ask what the school is doing to raise achievement and how you can support learning at home.
  4. Discuss your child’s strengths and challenges. Through comparing areas where your child excels with areas in need of improvement, you can identify ways to support your child’s learning at home.
  5. Ask questions. This is one of the most important aspects of a successful conference. Here are some key questions to get you started:How much time should my child spend on homework each night?
    Does the teacher’s estimate match with what you see your child doing at home? If it doesn’t, share your observations with your child’s teacher to generate possible solutions.

    How can I reinforce classroom lessons at home?

    Ask the teacher about activities, games or other strategies that you can use to further your child’s learning at home.

    How can I stay connected?

    Find out ways to keep track of your child’s progress, assignments and activities. Is there a system in place for parent communication or involvement? Discuss the best ways to stay current.

Do your best to make the most of your parent-teacher conference or back-to-school night. The more informed you become, the better you, your child and your child’s teacher can work together as a successful team.


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