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Parent-Teacher Conferences

By Kristin E. Bieber, Ph.D.

Attending parent-teacher conferences sends the message that you value what takes place at school and that learning is important. Research also shows that collaborative home-school relationships are linked with high academic achievement and low rates of disruptive behaviors. Below are some tips to help you make the most of parent-teacher conferences.

  • Focus on the positives: Ask your child's teacher what he or she believes your child is doing well and what progress your child has made since the beginning of the school year, or since the last time you had a conversation about his or her performance. It may be easy to forget the positives and focus only on the problems, so be intentional about discussing what your child is doing well.
  • When discussing concerns, try to remain focused on the solution. Thank your child's teacher for what he or she has done to address any difficulties and for bringing them to your attention. Ask what you can do at home to help your child build skills or gain knowledge that will support efforts in the classroom. Convey an open and accepting attitude toward brainstorming solutions. Ask your child's teacher to communicate with you when new strategies are implemented in order to address concerns and whether or not these interventions are effective. This way, you can stay informed about what's being done and whether or not it is working, and this information may help guide you in determining whether you need to seek outside assistance.
  • Other questions to ask at parent-teacher conferences include:
    • How is my child doing relative to his peers?
    • Is she on track for her grade level?
    • What does he need to improve?
    • What skills does she seem to have continued difficulties with?
    • How does he do with peers?
  • De-briefing with your child after parent-teacher conferences will convey to your child that he or she is part of the team. During this conversation:
    • Focus on the positives
    • Be concrete - emphasize specific behaviors that you, your child, and your child's teacher can do moving forward to address concerns and support progress.

Do not assume that there are no concerns because your child's teacher has not contacted you. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact your child's teacher in between parent-teacher conferences. Be proactive so that your child can get the most out of his or her classroom experience.