Welcome to one of my favorite times of the year: the season of Parent-Teacher Conferences. I just love hearing the insights my kids teachers have to offer, and their perceptions about all things related to my children. Some of us don’t really appreciate the sheer amount of time teachers spend with our kids… but it is a lot, and as a result they get to know them REALLY well.
Additionally, parent-teacher conferences are valuable opportunities to gain insights into your child’s academic progress, social development, and overall well-being. Asking thoughtful questions can help you better understand your child’s educational experience and how you can support their growth and success. Here are some of what I have found to be the best questions to ask teachers at conferences:
- What does my child’s progress look like?
- Don’t focus right away on grade-level expectations. Focus on their progress and the unique journey your child is on!
- This broad question allows the teacher to provide an overview of your child’s academic performance in various subjects. You can follow up with specific inquiries about strengths, areas for improvement, and strategies for academic growth.
- What do you see my child struggling with most?
- This is almost ALWAYS different at home at school. Whether you have angelic children or the kind that could drive us to drink… it doesn’t matter! Their teacher can have valuable insights about a side of their personality you might rarely see.
- Understanding your child’s strengths can help you reinforce positive behaviors and accomplishments, while knowledge of their weaknesses can guide you in providing additional support and resources at home.
- How does my child interact with peers and adults in the classroom?
- This is a big one. I always want to know if my child has friends, and if their perceptions of those friendships (e.g. – the stories you hear at home) are in fact true and accurate. Sometimes kids do not realize their “friends” are not being very kind, and the teacher could have good insight for this.
- Social-emotional development is just as important as academic achievement. Inquiring about your child’s social interactions can provide insights into their communication skills, cooperation, and ability to work in groups.
- How does my child do on independent work? Do they often ask for support?
- Understanding your child’s study habits and approach to *independent* classwork can help you establish an accurate perception of whether or not they are mastering the material that is being taught.
- This is also a good insight about your child’s confidence. Do they have much confidence? Should they?
- Do you feel that it is absolutely integral for my child to have a specific teacher next year?
- This is a tricky one. Some principals take parent requests for teachers, and some do not. However, almost all principals will listen to a teacher if they feel very strongly about this. The teacher may not be able to discuss it with you in detail, but you can always use this opportunity to get a simple “yes” or “no” and take the reins from there.
- Are there any supplies your classroom needs? (Either specific to your child, or for the class as a whole!)
- Teachers spend a LOT of their own money on our kids. They buy supplies for their classrooms, extra snacks, decorations, etc… This is a great opportunity to get feedback from the teacher about something that they really need.
Remember to approach parent-teacher conferences with a collaborative mindset, actively listening to the teacher’s feedback, and expressing appreciation for their insights and dedication to your child’s education.
This is a truly special time when you can build a great relationship with the person responsible for helping shape your child into an adult. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!