How do you navigate the parent-teacher conference? We’ve got parent-teacher conference tips for both parents and teachers!
What Is the Purpose of the Parent-Teacher Conference?
Parent-teacher conferences occur once or twice a year (and sometimes more if a specific issue needs to be discussed).
They are typically short: 10 to 30 minutes in length.
They occur around reporting periods when progress reports come out.
The purpose of a parent-teacher conference is to have face-to-face time between parents and teachers.
The meeting centers around the child’s academic progress and goal setting for the semester or year.
It can also include a time to brainstorm solutions to social, behavioral, or academic problems.
The parent-teacher conference may include topics related to homework, emotional challenges, or issues with friends.
This article contains affiliate links to things that you might like.
What to Expect at a Parent-Teacher Conference
A parent-teacher conference is, in essence, a discussion.
It is not a time for speeches but rather a time for both parties to discuss the student and, if needed, problem-solve together.
It is the ideal time to ask questions of one another.
You both have a unique perspective and see the student in different settings.
The teacher will likely have an agenda. This may include:
- Examples of child’s schoolwork
- Relevant test scores
- Observation of the child’s academic progress and social-emotional well-being
- Student progress reports
- Upcoming assignments and events
- Time for questions and answers
Parent-Teacher Conference Tips for Parents
These tips will help you make the most of your parent-teacher conference.
Remember Your Partnership
You and your child’s teacher are in a partnership, working together to help your student.
Remember to treat your child’s teacher with respect and courtesy.
Choose your words carefully; don’t come in with an accusatory tone.
If your teacher requests a conference, don’t assume they have something negative to say.
It usually means they would like your input. You, after all, are an expert on your child!
Review Your Student’s Work
Look over your student’s work and grades before attending the conference.
This way, you will be familiar with your student’s academic progress.
You may find it helpful to put these items in a binder that you can reference during the meeting.
Talk to Your Child Before the Meeting
Get your student’s feedback before you go to the meeting.
Tell your student that this meeting is just a standard appointment for the parent and teacher to get to know one another better.
Then you can better work together to help your student.
Ask your child how she feels about school and if there is something she wants you to bring up with her teacher.
Give her some time to think this over. There may be a question that she is too shy to ask.
Come in with Questions
This is your chance to ask questions of the teacher.
You may have specific questions in mind.
If not, here are some excellent questions for your first parent-teacher conference:
- What is my child’s strongest and weakest subjects?
- Does my child turn in assignments on time?
- Does my child participate fully in class?
- Does my child have friends and interact well with others?
- What is my child’s disposition in class?
- How can I better support my child at home?
- What can I do to help you, the teacher?
Start with the most important questions in case you run out of time.
The teacher has a schedule, so remember to end on time. Likely, someone else has the slot after you.
Thank your teacher at the end of the conference. They pour a lot into this job!
Parent-Teacher Conference Tips for Teachers
Parent-teacher conferences allow you to establish rapport with parents and enlist their help.
When parents are involved in their student’s education, students do better across the board.
You can improve the quality of your parent-teacher conferences with these tips.
Send Out Informative Invitations
Let parents know all the key details of the parent-teacher conference.
Make it easy to spot the time and place.
You can offer a few dates and times so parents with different work schedules and childcare needs can attend.
You will also want to communicate why you are scheduling this parent-teacher conference. While it is optional, underline its importance.
You can even create an online form (using a survey maker like Google Workspace) and send it out ahead of time to parents.
This allows them to list their questions and concerns (so you can preview them and ensure you address them).
Prepare an Agenda
Know what you will discuss at the meeting. A sample agenda may include:
- Review the student’s academic progress (have examples to show)
- Discuss relevant test scores
- Go over the progress report (discuss how grades were determined)
- Review observations of the student’s social and emotional well-being
- Discuss goals
- Highlight upcoming assignments
- Leave time for parent questions
Make Notes on Each Student
Before the conference, think about each student.
- How has the student grown or improved since the start of the year?
- What are the student’s strengths?
- Where can the student improve?
- How can the parents support their student at home?
Send a Reminder
Send a reminder of the conference appointment a few days beforehand.
Everyone needs a little help with organization!
If you use an online sign-up method, you can usually send an automatic reminder via email or text.
Start with the Positive
Parents need to know you are for their child.
They want an ally in their child’s education.
To that end, always start with the positive.
Mention a specific anecdote where the student shone.
This could be academic or related to organization, social strengths, emotional buoyancy, or communication.
Show and Tell
Be as specific as you can when speaking about the child’s academic progress.
Have examples of their work handy to show the parents.
Think of a couple of stories or anecdotes of the child’s participation in class.
End with the Positive Too
Think of the parent-teach conference as an Oreo cookie of commentary.
Start the conference with a positive comment or observation.
Put whatever is needed in the middle (that’s the creamy center).
End with a positive remark as well. What quality do you see in the student? Be specific.
Let parents know that you consider it a privilege to teach their child.
Build a Bridge for Areas of Improvement
If there are areas where the student needs to improve, make sure you bring those up.
Highlight why the area is essential. How does it impact the student’s academic progress?
Discuss what steps you are taking in the classroom.
Mention what the parent can do at home to help their child.
Would it help to get someone else involved, like a counselor or tutor?
Brainstorm together any other possible helps.
Keep on Track
You have a schedule to keep.
Be courteous to other parents by starting and ending each conference on time.
You can do this by sticking closely to your agenda.
Keep the most essential items at the beginning of the conference to make the most of your time.
You can also plan a 15-30-minute empty block during your conferences as a buffer.
If you need to overflow into that time, you can.
Otherwise, you can use it as a breather!
Give Parents a To-Do Item
Parents want to know what they can do to support their child at home.
Have some ideas at the ready.
These may include reading aloud, helping with homework, or working on social-emotional goals.
Enlist their help! After all, parents are your teammates.
The Best Parent-Teacher Conference Tips
The parent-teacher conference is not a chore; it’s an opportunity.
Make the most of this all-important time with these parent-teacher conference tips for parents and teachers.