Putting the PARENT Back in Parent Teacher Conferences


Many parents feel that their roles at parent-teacher conferences are those of listeners rather than participants.  I say parents are an equal and essential part of the equation and therefore should be able to actively participate in their parent-teacher conference.  These tips will help you make the most of your parent-teacher conference time:


(1)      BE ON TIME.  The teacher has to schedule conferences one right after the other to fit in every student.  Being late only wastes your time!


(2)      BE UNITED:  Whenever possible both parents should attend.  Showing up together demonstrates your united commitment to your child’s education.


(3)      BE POSITIVE: Share any positive comments from your child about the teacher, class, or classroom to set a positive tone for the meeting.


(4)      PLAN AHEAD:  Email any concerns to the teacher in advance if you want a thorough response.


(5)      DO YOUR HOMEWORK:  Make sure you’ve talked with your child to see there are any concerns about school.  Look over recent assignments and tests so you know what your child has been studying and how your child has been performing in class.


(6)      BRING THE REPORT CARD:  Most schools plan parent teacher conferences after the first progress reports or report cards are sent home. Make sure you review your child’s progress to see if there are any areas where your child may be struggling or other concerns you would like to discuss.


(7)      BRING YOUR LIST:  Make a written list of your top questions and concerns.  Give a copy to the teacher, with all of your contact information included.  Ask that any unaddressed items or concerns be responded to by email if you run out of time.


(8)      BRING AN ACTION PLAN: Prioritize your concerns and the steps that you feel need to be taken to ensure that your child reaches his or her educational potential for that school year.  Bring a brief, structured action plan with you for discussion, and bring a copy for the teacher.  Make sure you leave the meeting secure in the next step that will be taken to help your child succeed.


(9)      RESPECT THE NEXT PARENT:  Schedule a follow up meeting to address more lengthy concerns if you run out of conference time.


(10)                      THANK THE TEACHER. Teachers don’t get paid any more for any additional time, attention, or effort they put into our kids.  They are truly underpaid and underappreciated for what they do.


(11)                      FOLLOW UP WITH YOUR CHILD. Your parent teacher conference offers a wonderful opportunity to praise and express your appreciation for the positive accomplishments and effort your child has been making and discuss any areas that may need improvement.  Use this opportunity to create short and long term goals, reinforcements, and expectations.