Six Questions to Ask at a Parent-Teacher Conference


Parent? Ask Your Child’s Teacher These Questions

As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s education. In order to ensure that your child is receiving the best education possible and is well-prepared to succeed in school, it is critical to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, it is important to know what is expected of your son or daughter while at school. The best way to learn this essential information is to keep in regular contact with your child’s teacher and to attend parent-teacher conferences.

Parent-teacher conferences are an opportunity for you and your child’s teachers to share information about your child, their progress, strengths, successes, and areas or behaviors which he or she could improve. When attending these conferences, you want to find out as much as you can to assist in your child’s academic career and social development.

Below are six key questions to ask when you attend your next parent-teacher conference:

1.   Is my child working to the best of his or her ability? Find out if your child is living up to his or her potential in all subjects. This information can guide you in conversations with your child and help you set appropriate goals at home for your child to achieve.

2.   How is progress measured and what skills will my child need in order to succeed this year? Understanding how your child will be evaluated will help you ensure that he or she is learning and developing the necessary skills for academic success. By learning what essential skills your child needs, you can better help your child to develop those skills so he or she will be able to keep up with classmates or even get ahead of the game.

3.   What subjects will my child be studying this year and how much time do you expect children to spend on homework and studying outside of the classroom? By understanding what your child needs to learn and what your child’s obligations are outside the classroom, you can provide your son or daughter with educational support and make sure that essential school tasks are being prioritized and completed.

4.   What learning style does my child have and how do you accommodate differences in learning styles within the classroom? Inquiring about learning styles will provide insight into what the teacher is doing for students and how you can help your child to learn better in different learning environments.

5.   Does my child seem happy and engaged in school and during social interactions? Teachers can not only give you information about your child’s academic performance, but can also help you to understand how your child is developing socially. The teacher can tell you whether your child enjoys school and how he or she interacts with peers. Gaining a full picture of your child’s life at school is a telling sign of whether any issues exist beyond academics.

6.   How can I support your teaching program and help my child at home? By providing the support the teacher needs, the school can provide a better academic experience and your child will be more likely to enjoy and excel in school.

Remember, you are your child’s advocate. Stay involved. Being active in their education is one of the best investments you can make on behalf of your child. If your child is having a problem in school, do not assume it is the teachers fault, or that the teacher does not like your child. Most teachers love teaching and genuinely want to help your child. They teach for the joy and reward of getting to see children learn and excel, and the satisfaction that they are able to help someone else gain knowledge.

For the most part, problems in school stem from a lack or deficiency in the student’s basic skill levels, personality conflicts, a group dynamic issue or academic laziness on the part of the student due to a lack of self-discipline, and personal responsibility. Problems also come from a lack of support at home from parents, family problems, or a true learning disability and physiologic needs such as needs glasses, which require professional testing by a doctor and/or a licensed child psychologist.

The videos below, while a cartoon, demonstrate what you don’t want your parent teacher conference to look like.

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Expensive private “educational testing” can be one of the best solutions for a struggling student. It normally pin points the students’ academic and social issues in need of correction, and provides an active individual academic “road map” for the student, teacher, school and parent that will help the student develop a successful path of learning.

As a general rule, a student with a problem needs the earliest intervention possible. As children progress through school, if the problems a student is having are not caught early, the curriculum becomes more difficult. It also becomes harder for the student to overcome their academic problems. Both testing and tutoring are not negatives in education, but are a pathway to true educational success. Remember, “time waits for no one”.

By asking these key questions, you can learn a lot about how your child is performing in school, academically and socially, and what you can do to guide your child’s learning and development. These answers will arm you with the information necessary to provide school support, and a home environment which bolsters academic success and a desire and eagerness to learn.

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