How to get the most from a parent-teacher conference?
A dreadful moment for some parents, an exciting opportunity for others: the parent-teacher conferences. During the first term of each academic year, many schools schedule parent-teacher conferences that serve as an important moment for parents to get insights into their child’s school life and academic performance. These parent-teacher conferences are also an excellent starting point for a healthy relationship between parents and teachers as both parties share the same goal: offering the child the best and most rewarding school experience. The average parent-teacher conference lasts for 10 to 15 minutes which is just a short amount of time to cover all topics parents have in mind. What is the best way to prepare for this important appointment?
Before the conference
Some parents come to the parent-teacher conferences with a long list of questions regarding their child's academic progress. Although it’s great when parents come in prepared, they should also understand that these conferences provide teachers with the opportunity to get to know their student better. Families might use this moment to inform teachers about significant changes in a child’s personal or family life, which will impact the student’s work or behaviour at school.
There are also families that do not know exactly what to talk about during the conference. A good place to start would be to ask about one strength and one element the child needs to develop. For older students, it is important to discuss with the child how they feel they are doing and what they want their parents to discuss with the teacher: are they facing a particular academic or social struggle at the moment or what are they enjoying in school at the moment?
The questions can cover clarify the teachers’ expectations, assessment and social, emotional development. Here are a few example questions:
- Are you happy with my child’s current progress in this subject?
- How are you measuring their learning in this topic?
- What is my child doing well in class?
- What does my child struggle with in class?
- How do you describe my child’s demeanour in class?
- How does my child get along with classmates?
The most important thing to remember when preparing for the parent-teacher conference is that both parties need to have the right information to support the child’s academic and social progress.
During the conference
While it might seem obvious that parents should be on time when having a parent-teacher conference, some parents arrive late to the appointment. For that reason, double-checking the timeslot for the conference a few hours before the parent-teacher conference is recommended.
Teachers often use this first conference to give a short overview of the child’s achievements so far. Parents are advised to then address their most urgent questions first. If the meeting is too short to discuss all the concerns, parents always have the option to schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss points further. A good way to end the conference is to discuss any future actions or point for attention to assist the child in their daily school and home routine.
Some families might experience stress or anxiety during the parent-teacher conference, especially if their child struggles in school. Expressing all concerns is essential for a successful parent-teacher conference, even if the teacher might disagree with the comments. If a parent does not address any points of concern, the teacher could simply assume there are no concerns that might impact the child’s learning journey.
After the conference
Students are often curious to hear what their teachers have to say about them. Therefore, parents are encouraged to briefly share what has been discussed during the parent-teacher conference. Always start with the positive, then move on to the challenges that have been raised during the conference. Parents can then verify with their child if they understood everything and why certain steps have been established for the future. If there were any points to address, it is advised to follow up with the teacher a few weeks later to see if additional steps need to be implemented. The most important thing to remember is the aim of the meeting is to start a conversation around your child and how you and the teacher can work together to ensure a successful year of learning.
Hopefully, these few tips will help parents to feel more prepared for their next parent-teacher conferences. If you’d like to ask us any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch or schedule a visit!