Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

It’s parent-teacher conference night. The school is buzzing with families and the opportunity to motivate your child is in your hands. Here are some tips on making the most out of this one-on-one time with your child’s teachers.

It all starts at home:

Stay on top of your child’s progress in school, as well as his social life and home life. New friends and sliding grades may be related, just as a winning soccer season and top-notch grades can be, too. Either way, the puzzle is easier to put together when you have all the pieces.

Talk to your child about what she would like to learn from the parent-teacher conference. You can even ask your child what she thinks each teacher may say about her performance and capabilities. Very often, children know the areas in which they are having trouble, and presenting the conference as an opportunity for improvement rather than an opportunity for being grounded will be much more beneficial to everyone.

Be aware of how family life can affect your child’s behavior and progress at school. Even positive events such as a new sibling or moving into a new home can cause stress on a child, which can carry over to school performance.

Tips for the big night:

By all means, attend! Studies show parents who are involved with their children both at home and in school are more likely to identify behavioral and academic issues earlier and foster trust between children and teachers. Plus, the parent-teacher conference is an opportunity for you to engage with the people who have the second biggest impact on your child’s future.

Make a list in advance of any questions you may have. It’s a long, busy night, and you may only have 15 minutes or so with each teacher. At the outset of each meeting, establish what you would like to accomplish and try not to get sidetracked.

Don’t just focus on the grades. Ask about your child’s social circle. Is he being influenced by all-star students or on-the-fence students?

Plan on hearing some things you knew and some things you didn’t, and listen with an open mind. No matter if your child has straight “A’s” or is barely passing, leave with a plan and discuss that plan with your child.

After the conference, the lines of communication should remain open between the parent and teacher. Check in with each teacher a month after the conference to ensure progress is being made, or if additional steps need to be taken.


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