Playing Your Part at a Parent-Teacher Conference
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Schools typically invite all parents of elementary students to teacher conferences once or twice a year to discuss their child’s progress. This is an important opportunity for parents and teachers to exchange information as well as develop a working relationship.
Given the likely brevity of your conference, you will need to use the time efficiently so that the meeting is as productive and informative as possible. While the teacher will review your child’s academic progress during the conference, you may have questions not addressed by her presentation. Reviewing your child’s schoolwork and textbooks may generate possible questions. In addition, the list of questions below might give you ideas of what else you might ask the teacher.
- What is your homework routine? How much time should students typically spend on homework each evening? What role do you expect parents to play with homework? Is my child handing in homework regularly?
- Are tests given on a regular basis? If so, when? How has he done?
- Which reading and math groups is he in? What is the process for moving into another group?
- What topics are you teaching in science and social studies?
- Is he putting forth optimal effort?
- What are his academic strengths and weaknesses?
- Is he below, at, or above grade level in academic skills? How does he compare with his classmates academically?
- Are there any signs of a learning disability? If so, should he be considered for remedial or special education?
- Does he show evidence of special talents or abilities? If so, what can be done to cultivate this talent?
- Are there school programs which he can benefit from (for example, gifted and talented or enrichment program, after-school tutoring program, instrumental music, or homework hotline)?
- Does he contribute to class discussions?
- Does he work well independently?
- Does he appear anxious about any aspect of school?
- How does he get along with his peers? Does he have any problems during recess?
- Is he having any behavioral or social difficulties? How unusual are these difficulties for his age? Have there been any sudden changes in his behavior or mood?
- How can we help him at home? Are there any skills in need of reinforcement? What materials, activities, or strategies would you suggest that we use?
- When is the best time to contact you during school hours