Parent-teacher conferences can be a stressful ordeal if you’re not sure what to expect or how to prepare. That said, these meetings can also offer a unique window into your child’s life at school—both academically and socially.
Prepare for your conference ahead of time by jotting down these four questions to ask your child’s teacher(s):
- How does my child respond to challenges? Ask about challenges to understand how your child confronts difficulties. This insight can help you tailor your support in a meaningful way.
- Are group dynamics impacting my child’s learning? Uncover social influences by diving into the classroom dynamics affecting your child’s performance. It’s about more than just academics!
- Is my child utilizing classroom resources? Seek to learn if your child is making the most out of classroom resources. This can be a telltale sign of their engagement and curiosity level.
- Are you noticing any specific strengths or talents in my child? Teachers can offer unique perspectives on your child’s untapped skills or interests. Time to nurture these hidden talents!
Looking for additional ways to make the most out of your parent-teacher conferences? Keep reading!
How to Dig Deeper: It’s Not Just About Grades
Many parents focus on academic performance—and why wouldn’t they? At its core, education is the function of school, and academic performance gauges how well our students are taking to that education. However, it’s essential to look beyond just grades. Understanding the broader educational experience can provide insights into your child’s well-being.
- Academic Strengths and Weaknesses: This often gets conflated with grades. Beyond the report card, teachers can identify areas where your child shines and where they may need additional support. Is your child’s mathematical ability ahead of the class, or do they struggle with reading comprehension? Ask for the specifics!
- Classroom Engagement: Ask about your child’s level of participation in classroom activities and group projects. Are they eager to answer questions, or do they seem reserved? Unless your student’s teachers included a “participation” grade, this could fly under the radar.
- Social Dynamics: How does your child interact with peers? Are they assertive, shy, or somewhere in between? Social skills are as vital as academics in the long run. Being overly social could lead to distractions, while being too distant could hamper their ability to collaborate effectively. Keep an eye on this equilibrium; it’s important for both academic and social development.
Uncover Opportunities: Support at Home
Your involvement is crucial to your child’s success. Be sure to ask for specific ways you can help your student grow, both academically and personally, at home.
- Homework Tips: Discuss strategies for creating a conducive homework environment and any potential online resources that might reinforce classroom learning. Do they sing a song to remember the process of how sedimentary rocks form? Get the lyrics and have them perform it for the family (or in the shower if that’s their thing)!
- Behavioral Cues: Ask for advice on dealing with any behavioral issues that might arise, such as procrastination or a lack of focus during study time. Are you having difficulties getting your student to plan ahead for upcoming projects? Bring that up! Your teacher may have ideas for combatting a case of the last-minute blues.
- Extracurricular Suggestions: Teachers can often recommend extracurricular activities that align with your child’s strengths or interests, enriching their educational journey. Maybe they’ve noticed your student providing solid examples as to why corn dogs are the best school lunch menu option at the lunch table– debate club could be a natural fit.
Staying Connected & the Road Ahead
Parent-teacher conferences shouldn’t be a one-and-done event; they’re the beginning of a continuous dialogue aimed at providing your student with a strong support network to help them thrive academically and personally. To maintain involvement in your child’s education and growth, you’ll want to maintain lines of open communication throughout the school year.
- Communication Channels: Ask your child’s teacher for the best way to keep in touch. Do they have a classroom social media channel where they post daily or weekly happenings (don’t forget to follow and like their posts)? Ask how they prefer you reach out if you have specific questions about your student’s performance- some teachers prefer emails, while others might recommend regular phone check-ins.
- Actionable To-Dos: After gathering insightful information about your student from their teacher(s), turn these insights into a list of actionable items you can work on with them at home. Maybe it’s establishing a 30-minute reading time after baseball practice or looking into local art classes to explore their newfound love of painting.
- Celebrate Milestones: As you, your student, and their teacher(s) work towards joint goals, take time to acknowledge achievements, however small, from all parties involved. This will encourage a positive attitude towards learning and grow the partnership to new levels.
By being proactive and involved, you can make the most out of the educational experience for both you and your child. Navigating these conferences effectively is the first step in setting your student up for success throughout their high school experience. For more timely tips on how to help your 9th/10th graders build a strong foundation during their first two years, or for ways to support your 11th/12th graders in mastering their high-stakes academic years, check out our grade-level eBooks below!
Building a Strong Foundation in High School (9/10th Grade Years)
Preparing for High-Stakes Academic Years (11/12th Grade Years)
By Robert Brundage
Robert is a tutor and Creative Content Manager at Revolution Prep. Off-duty, he enjoys being silly with his daughter, trying out new recipes, and playing board games with his wife and friends.