Questions to make the most out of Parent-Teacher Conferences

November 7, 2011

Ready, Set, Go…..you have 20 minutes of undivided attention from your child’s teacher to discuss their progress for the first part of the
school year.  After the teacher has shared your child’s work and her assessments, here is a list of questions that will help you find out even more
about your child’s school experience.

  1. Do you feel my child is working to the best of his abilities?  This question allows the teacher to share what she sees in the classroom.  You may observe something completely different at home.  My middle son was described by his teacher to a tee…a little impulsive (okay, maybe a lot) and quick to want to finish his work, but she also noted he tends to be the one to push himself especially in math.  Who knew?!?
  2. What is an acceptable amount of time for homework?  We all have heard the guidelines and to be honest it is taking more than two hours for your 3rd grader to finish his homework.  PLEASE tell the teacher.  Ask her if there are acceptable modifications such as can he do the odd problems once we hit a certain time or can he type the spelling sentences on the computer?
  3. What type of learner do you see my child being?  This is a very helpful and important question.  If you have a visual learner and you are always trying to explain something to him with no visual cues it can cause major conflict and confusion at home.   One student I work with is a very verbal learner and when teaching him concepts I relate it to a story because he remembers stories and it helps him when he needs to recall information.
  4. You mentioned he is struggling with addition facts.  How can I help him at home?  Teachers have LOTS of great tricks up their sleeves.  We love to share these with parents.  By the way, math war is my all-time favorite game for reviewing math facts.
  5. How are you preparing my child to study? Take a test?  This is important because you want to follow through with study skills.  Study skills are historically a difficult concept for children…teen agers…college students…you get my point.  They need to be practiced and reinforced at home.
  6. Do you provide differential lessons and instruction for the variety of learners in the class?  Not every child learns the same.  You want to make sure your child’s learning style is being catered to during the school day.  For example does she follow verbal directions with visual cues, does she use manipulatives to demonstrate mathematic concepts.
  7. What supports do you recommend to challenge or help with remediation? Teachers are an excellent source of ways you can enhance your child’s education whether it is with a specific program, tutor, app or computer program.  They are also good at helping guide you with what will work best for your child.
  8. What is the most effective way for me to communicate with you?  All my children’s teachers are big emailers (whew!).  I like the written documentation of email, but some teachers prefer a phone call.
  9. Who are my child’s friends?  The social part of school is a huge part of your child’s day.  The social circles in schools can play a key role in your child’s daily happiness.

Asking these questions at your parent teacher conference will give you better insight into your child’s education.