Kids and teens do better in school when parents get involved. Attending parent–teacher
conferences is one way to be involved and help your child succeed.
A parent–teacher conference is a great opportunity to:
discuss your child's progress
share your child's strengths and needs
work with the teacher to help your child do well in school
Parent–teacher conferences usually happen once or twice a year. They're brief
meetings, lasting about 10–30 minutes. Most schools set aside specific dates
and times for conferences, but if they conflict with your schedule, try to find another
time that works. If you can't make it into school, ask your child's teacher if you
can schedule a phone conference instead. If necessary, divorced parents can ask a
teacher to schedule separate conferences.
Other school staff who support your child's learning may attend the conference
too. An administrator might go at the request of the parent or teacher if an issue
can't be resolved by the teacher alone. In some cases, the student may attend the
conference, but parents also can ask for private time with the teacher.
Conferences focus on learning, although behavior and social concerns might be discussed.
The teacher will review your child's progress, including strengths and areas in need
of improvement. You also might talk about standardized test results, individualized
education plans (IEP), and 504
Before the Conference
Some parents track their child's schoolwork and progress and already know what
they need to talk about with the teacher. Some may have been talking with teachers
at IEP or 504 plan meetings. For those parents, the conference is a chance to update
each other on how the student is doing. Other parents may be talking with the teacher
for the first time.
Whether it's your first conversation with the teacher or one of many, it can help
if you go prepared. Know ahead of time how your child is doing and what you want to
discuss. Even if you know all is well, attending conferences shows your kids that
you're interested in how they do in school.
These tips can help you make the most of those important meetings:
In the weeks ahead of a conference, check in with kids about how they're doing
and in each subject. Review homework and any recent projects, tests, quizzes, report
cards, or progress reports.
Ask if there are questions or issues your child wants you to discuss with the
Plan to bring something to take notes with (paper and pen or a laptop or other
Share a few things about your child with the teacher — interests, strengths,
favorite subjects — to help the teacher know your child better.
Write down questions or topics you'd like the conference to cover. Depending on
your situation, you may want to ask about:
whether your child is meeting grade-level expectations (not how he or she compares
educational testing if your child is struggling
what the teacher sees as your child's strengths and challenges and how these are
other services to help your child grow as a learner
making a plan to check in regularly if there are any learning or behavior problems
your child's work habits, independently and in large- and small-group instruction
how your child gets along with other students in class and during lunch, recess,
phys-ed, and other classes
If any school-related problems arise, contact the teacher or other school staff
by phone or email. You don't have to wait until parent–teacher conference time
to handle your concerns.
During the Conference
Teachers usually meet with parents in back-to-back meetings, so try to be on time
for your meeting.
At the meeting, remember to:
Get contact information for the teacher and ask what the best form of contact
is (letter, email, phone call, message via student-teacher-parent web portal, etc.)
Ask to see classwork and homework samples, tests and quizzes, and standardized
Ask your questions and share information about your child.
Make the most of this time by focusing on your child's learning.
Summarize the main points of the discussion to confirm details and any next steps.
After the Conference
To follow up after the meeting:
Contact the teacher with any questions you didn't have time to ask.
Review your notes about what you and the teacher will do to support learning,
then make detailed plans about how and when you will help your child.
If you still have concerns or do not agree with an evaluation, put your thoughts
in writing and schedule a meeting with the teacher or an administrator as soon as
Check in with the teacher to follow up on your child's progress.
Review what was discussed at the conference with your child, including any special
learning plans, and share the positive comments the teacher made.
Consider sending a thank-you note to the teacher and any other educator who took
the time to attend the conference.
Keep in mind that you and your child's teacher have the same goal: To help your
child succeed in school.