What is it about a parent teacher conference that turns most parents into nodding machines that seem to have lost the power of speech? I guess there is always this fear that our parenting skills are being judged, and that even though we know our child better than anyone else does, all of a sudden we’re going to get hit with some new information. Also, sitting in those itty bitty chairs doesn’t help at all. It’s hard to feel dignified and competent when every time you nod, you bonk your chin on your knees.
Here’s the thing, it’s great to go into a conference at your child’s school ready to listen and nod enthusiastically. However, if all you are doing is listening, then you are missing out on ways that you could be helping your child.
Teachers always ask you if you have any questions because that’s the whole point of seeing you in person, as opposed to just writing all of their input down and sending it home. It’s not their job to tell you what to ask and if you don’t have any questions, they are going to let you walk right out of there because they are busy. You aren’t the only parent with whom they are conferring so it’s up to you to ask. Since we’re here to help in case you are out of ideas or questions, come prepared with the following queries.
6 Questions to Ask at Your Parent Teacher Conference
- What do you consider to be my child’s strengths? You probably have a pretty good idea of what your child is good at, but you might be surprised to find out that your little one is great at solving problems or is a budding writer with excellent storytelling abilities.
- In what areas does my child need improvement? Even if the teacher says everything is going well, it doesn’t hurt to press a little and ask for suggestions of how you can support what is being taught in school at home.
- How is my child doing socially? You want to know if your child gets along with others, is feeling intimidated or is doing just fine.
- How does my child’s participate in class? Ask whether your child raises their hand and if so, how often? Do they feel comfortable asking for help when they are struggling? Are they speaking out of turn? This will help you guide and encourage your child’s behavior.
- How can I help you? We’re all incredibly busy and sometimes shy away from volunteering at school because we feel like we don’t have the time. However, you can do something as simple as printing out copies of school materials, or staple packets together.
- What is the best way to communicate with you? This one is so important because you don’t want to mess with the teacher’s flow. You might think it’s perfectly OK to stop by in the morning with a question or concern, but that may be a horrible time for the teacher. Some teachers prefer email, while others do like phone calls. I also know a few teachers that like handwritten notes.
You’re all set for your next parent-teacher conference! You may even get a gold star for being so prepared!