Talking with Your Child's Teacher
Explore these topics to learn about the benefits of regular communication with your child's teacher.
Why Parent Teacher Conferences
As a parent, you are very important to your child's success in school. Teachers need parents to help children learn and do their best in school.
A conference gives you and the teacher a chance to talk about your child's progress and work together to help your child. In a conference with your child's teacher, you can:
- Find out how your child is doing in school.
- Help the teacher better understand your child's needs.
- Plan ways in which both you and the teacher can help your child do better in school.
When to Have a Conference
Most schools have parent-teacher conferences two times each year -- once in the fall and again in spring.
Conferences can be held at other times -- whenever you or the teacher feel a conference is needed.
To ask for a conference, send a note or call the teacher at school, and arrange a good time to meet.
Preparing for the Conference
You will feel more comfortable and get more out of a conference with your child's teacher if you prepare for it, using the following three steps.
Talk with your child. Find out how things are going at school by asking your child questions such as:
- What are you learning in school?
- What do you like about school?
- What don't you like?
- Is there anything you want me to tell or ask your teacher at the conference?
Make a list of questions. A good way to remember your questions is to write down a few notes ahead of time. Here are some questions you may want to ask your child's teacher:
- How is my child doing in each subject?
- Is my child achieving at grade level?
- Does my child do well when working alone?
- How is my child getting along with other students?
- What does my child do well in school?
- In what areas does my child need help?
- What homework is expected of my child?
- What can be done at home to help my child do better in school?
Plan what you want to tell the teacher. Think about the things that will help the teacher better understand your child. You may want to make a list. Some things to discuss are your child's:
- Feelings toward school.
- Special health problems, if any.
- Interests, activities, and friends.
- After-school habits: homework, reading, TV, sports, video games, etc.
If you have concerns about changes you have seen in your child, you may want to discuss them with the teacher. Some examples of changes in children that can affect schoolwork include:
- being unusually tired, sad, or angry
- changes in eating or sleeping habits
- being upset by an illness in the family or other stressful situations
- spending a lot of time with certain friends and acting like them
- being bothered by problems in the community.
However, you do not have to tell the teacher any personal information. You decide what's best for your child.
During the Conference
- Listen carefully.
- Ask questions if you do not clearly understand what is being said. One way to be sure you understand is to repeat what the teacher says in your own words.
- Look over samples of your child's work and the books your child uses.
- Ask the questions you have in mind before the conference, and those you think of as you talk with the teacher.
- Give information that you feel will help the teacher better understand your child.
- Ask for ideas on how you can help your child learn.
- Find out what homework and classwork is expected of your child.
After the Conference
Take the time to praise your child for making a good effort at school. For example, tell your child how proud you are of a paper or project that you saw at the conference. Talk with your child about what you and the teacher expect. Make plans with your child that will help him/her do better. For example, set up a specific time and place for doing homework. If necessary, limit the time your child spends watching TV and other activities so reading and homework can be done.