When my son went to kindergarten, a funny realization hit me—the nervous excitement I felt as a child for parent-teacher conferences lived on, except my role had gone from student to parent. It can be a little intimidating going into a parent-teacher conference, no matter how many times you’ve done it before.
You’re given a short 15-minute window to learn about your child’s performance in school and the teacher’s classroom dynamics and teaching style. That may seem like too short of a time frame. But if you come prepared with thoughtful parent-teacher conference questions, you can have a productive conversation that gives you a clear picture of your child’s daily life at school and the teacher a better understanding of who they are outside of the classroom.
What is the Goal of a Parent-Teacher Conference?
You and the teacher have one shared goal for a successful parent-teacher conference: determine how to best support your child whether academically, socially, or emotionally. To get there, you both need insight into their day-to-day life in school and at home.
As a parent, you want to know how your child is doing with their schoolwork and get an idea of their strengths and areas that need more support. You want to understand their social habits, how they interact with their peers, and whether they seem happy and secure at school.
The teacher is looking for a glimpse into your child’s life outside of school because it helps them understand your child better. They may ask questions about your family, your child’s interests, how they spend their free time, and whether they feel good at home.
Questions to Ask at a Parent-Teacher Conference
Depending on the circumstances, you may want to prepare different parent-teacher conference questions. You will want to consider when the conference occurs during the school year, the age of your child, how they’re performing academically, if you have concerns about their behavior or wellbeing at school, whether they have special needs, and if they’re enrolled in a gifted program.
Take some time to think about what information would be the most helpful in understanding their life at school and in what areas you suspect they could use more support. Jot down some of the questions below to help guide you through your conference:
Academic Progress Questions
- Is my child performing at their grade level?
- What are their academic strengths?
- What areas need more attention and support?
If Your Child Is Struggling in School
- How do you intervene when you see a student who is having a hard time grasping a concept?
- Are there any books, programs, or other tools that I can use at home to help my child?
- Would they benefit from tutoring?
If Your Child Is Doing Well in School
- How do you help students stay engaged when they are excelling in their coursework?
- Do you personalize or adapt learning opportunities depending on their academic progress?
- How do you approach or identify students who may show signs of being a gifted learner?
- What skills do they need to grow to prepare for Advanced Placement® (AP®) or honors classes?
Students With Special Needs
- What are some ways I can support their learning from home so that we’re working together as a team?
- What do you see as my child’s greatest strength?
- What does my student’s 504 plan or IEP look like in the classroom?
Students in Advanced Learning or Gifted Education Programs
- What resources are available through their program and how are they used?
- How do you help students stay engaged in their coursework?
- Are there any opportunities outside of the classroom that they may enjoy or benefit from?
Behavior and Social/Emotional Development Questions
- Do you have any behavioral concerns? If so, can you share examples?
- How do you address behavioral issues? How can I best support this at home?
- What do you do if you notice signs of bullying?
- What are some positive behaviors you’ve witnessed from my child?
- How does my child interact with others?
- How are they emotionally while at school?
Beginning of the School Year Questions
- What impacts grades the most in your class?
- What are your policies on late homework, extra credit, and extensions?
- How can I help my child with homework and projects in a supportive role?
- Are there specific questions I should ask my child about their time in school that will help them open up about their experiences?
- How do you prefer parents to communicate with you?
- What’s the best way to stay informed of what’s going on at school?
The teacher will also want to learn more about your child at home. Some things you may want to share include:
- Their likes and dislikes
- Hobbies, special skills, and strengths
- Situations that could affect their overall emotional health, such as divorce, illness, a big move, a new sibling, or previous issues with bullying
These parent-teacher conference questions will help guide an insightful conversation about your child and their life at school. Most importantly, you should leave with an understanding of how you can best support your child in reaching their full potential—all while being emotionally and socially fulfilled. Keep in mind, this won’t be your only opportunity to speak with their teacher, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself and this conference. This should open the door to communication between you and the teacher, because as mentioned above, the main goal of this meeting is to support your child.
After this meeting, if you feel like your child isn’t getting the support they need, know that you have options. Many parents whose children first attended traditional, in-person schools have decided to seek other learning environments, such as online schools like those powered by K12. Here, students get a personalized learning experience, while parents have online access to feedback and regular interaction with their teacher—meaning you don’t wait for the biannual conference to learn about your child’s progress. To learn more, go to K12.com.