With the 1st semester of school about 8 weeks in, routines have been established, expectations have been set, grades have been given, and maybe your parent anxiety has kicked in a little (or a lot). It’s time to schedule the parent-teacher conference. The only perspective you get of your child’s classroom is from your child, and while that is the most important perspective to hear, it’s also important to remember it isn’t the only one. Scheduling a parent-teacher conference will provide clarity on not only your child’s performance, but also the teacher’s stance on things, as well as what to expect coming up in the school year. Having an idea of what you’d like to discuss with specific questions to ask are pertinent in getting that clarity. Here are 10 questions to ask your child’s teacher at your next parent-teacher conference, brought to you by a teacher-mom:
1. How can I help him while at home?
Parents are collaborators when it comes to their child’s education. The learning does not stop at the bell. Asking the teacher what strategies you can do with your child at home to continue the learning will not only further develop the skill but will also show the teacher you are cooperative and supportive of her teachings.
2. Is there any work he can make-up or re-do?
This is a great question for parents who have children a bit older and whose grades might be suffering a bit. It never hurts to ask if there’s a particular project or writing assignment your child did poorly on that he can re-do for partial credit. Depending on the teacher’s policies, she may very well let him do so.
3. What unit will you be covering next in class?
Go ahead and get prepared for what your child is about to learn. This will give you an idea of what to expect, especially if it’s a skill you know your child is going to struggle with.
4. How do you suggest he study at home?
I cannot stress enough how important it is for a parent to become familiar with how your child studies at home. In order to get beneficial tips from the teacher about preparing for a test or a quiz, make sure you already know what he’s doing at home so that you and the teacher can go ahead and rule out what is not working.
5. What is his biggest weakness?
Sometimes parents might think they know the answer to this question, but you’d be surprised that sometimes the weakness in the classroom is different than a weakness they portray at home. It’s always good to get the teacher’s perspective on this.
6. Do you tutor?
Getting extra help from the teacher is ALWAYS a win. If she doesn’t tutor or can’t, getting recommendations will provide more avenues in getting the extra help your child might need.
7. How can I contribute to the class?
Be an active part in your child’s education. Some classes welcome “celebrity” guest speakers. Others might desperately need extra markers or construction paper. This will show the teacher you care about the education and that you are here to assist her in whatever way you can. Also, she would be MUCH appreciative of the offer.
8. Does my child work well with others?
Get an insight into your child’s social skills. Learn who his friends are in the classroom. It’s important for kids to be cooperative learners in the classroom.
9. Is my child performing at grade level?
This will give you an idea as to where your child falls academically relative to his peers. This is a great question to provide peace of mind or to give you the confirmation you needed to hear to take the next step in what’s best for your child.
10. What are his strengths?
Always end the conference on a good note. This will reaffirm your confidence in your child, especially if the conference was scheduled based on negative feedback, and you can praise your child for it as well, furthering his confidence in the class too.