Ten Tips for Successful Parent Teacher Conferences

Health Writer

Parent teacher conferences normally occur at report card time, but both parents and teachers can request a conference at any time during the school year if there is a problem. For many parents, these conferences are a stressful time. Parents may worry they will hear bad reports about their child's behavior at school or of failing grades. Parents may be intimidated by the thought of meeting with a child's teacher.

Teachers, however, gain valuable information through parents and can use this knowledge to better teach the children in their class. They can find out what motivates a child, what they like and what they don't like. Parents can discuss how their child learns and teachers can use this information to help a student succeed. Parents can use parent teacher conferences to find tools and strategies to help their child at home.

Working together, parents and teachers can offer a child a successful school year. The following are ten tips to help parents make the most of parent teacher conferences:

  1. Be on time for the conference. Teachers usually have a schedule they must keep. During report card conferences, parents are tightly scheduled to make time for all parents. If conferences are scheduled at other times, it is normally between classes or before or after school. Be considerate of the teacher's time and arrive on time and keep your conference to the allotted amount of time.
  1. Be prepared to ask questions. Write down any concerns you may have prior to the conference so you don't forget what you want to discuss. Ask specific questions such as: is your child participating in class? What subjects does he or she enjoy most? What subjects seem more difficult for him or her?

  2. Talk with your child before the conference. Find out if they are having problems at school or if he or she has any concerns to be addressed.

  3. Make the conference a give and take with the teacher. You can provide information about your child, about your home life, about strengths and weaknesses and about special needs your child may have. You are also there to find out information about how your child is doing in school and what areas, if any, your child may need extra assistance in.

  4. Bring paper and pencil with you to take notes. This will show the teacher you are serious about the meeting and will also allow you to remember what was said.

  5. Be positive during the conference. Remember you are both there to help your child succeed. Don't react defensively if your teacher brings up a problem. You are there to work together to solve any problems.

  1. Work together to create a plan of action. Creating a specific plan will allow both you and the teacher to monitor progress throughout the school year.

  2. Discuss the social aspect of school as well as academic. Does your child get along with other students?

  3. Keep the conference positive. Although you need to know any problems your child may be having, you don't want to the conference to become more about problems, it should be about solutions.

  4. Set up a way to continue communication. It could be via weekly phone calls or by email. Continued contact will help keep you apprised of any potential problems and will allow you to let the teacher know if there are any problems at home.