Most educational activity takes place between educators and students. However, there is one area where parents and educators consistently and purposefully interact, as well: parent-teacher conferences.
These events provide an ideal opportunity for parents to get updates on their children’s academic progress. They can also learn about their social and emotional development and the various ways that they can support their children, such as helping with schoolwork or even working with experienced tutors.
Parent-teacher conferences are always important. However, if you want to get the most out of them, it’s wise to be prepared. Here are ten helpful questions that a parent can ask when interacting with their children’s teachers.
1. May I Tell You About My Child?
Before you start bombarding your child’s educator with questions, it’s wise to start with one that is more focused on information that you can provide. By asking if you can tell your teacher about your child, you open the door to bring them up-to-date on the latest developments in your child’s personal life.
You can inform the teacher about emotional events like going through the loss of a loved one or a divorce. You can also fill them in on basic things about your child, such as a newly diagnosed condition or allergy, their various likes and dislikes, or strengths and weaknesses that their teacher may not naturally be aware of.
2. How Is My Child Doing Emotionally?
While it’s easy to talk about academic and even social performance, one area that you shouldn’t neglect is their emotional welfare.
Your teacher spends dozens of hours with your child each week. They may be aware of emotional struggles or strengths that you don’t see in a home setting. In the area of emotions, in particular, it’s important to ask follow-up questions.
For instance, if your child gets angry, you may want to ask if they’ve acted out inappropriately. You could also ask if your teacher is aware of any coping mechanisms that you could utilize to help your child.
3. How Is My Child Doing Socially?
It’s important to see how your child is doing socially. Are they maintaining their friendships well? Do they have friends at all? Do they tend to lead or follow? Are they being bullied or are they bullying anyone?
Social status amongst peers isn’t the end-all of life. However, the social development that takes place in school can be instrumental in helping your child develop into a well-rounded adult.
4. What Do You Do to Support Their Social Development?
A nice follow-up question to your child’s social development can be to ask how the teachers themselves are involved in the process. Ask what they are doing to be a positive influence on your child’s social development.
If you respectfully do this, it can open up the doors to further discussion on learning techniques and methods that you may not be aware of. At the same time, it may also help you gauge when you should get involved and when you should resist that helicopter parent mentality and simply let things take their course.
5. How Is My Child’s Academic Performance?
One of the simplest questions that you can ask at a parent-teacher conference is how your child is doing academically. This is a great ice-breaker question that can lead to many of the other questions on this list.
It’s important to carefully listen to the response, as well. There will always be time to dig into specifics. However, a question as broad as this one can lead to a quick response that can help you get a rough idea of how your child is doing. This is important to set the stage for further questions.
6. Is My Child Performing on Grade Level?
Along with asking how your child is doing in their studies, it’s also a good idea to see if they’re performing at the expected grade level. For instance, if you have an eight-year-old, this question will help you understand if your child is keeping up with reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and other subjects at a third-grade level.
This question should then allow for the opportunity to explore the options available to students that may be either ahead of or below grade level.
7. What Do You See as My Child’s Strengths?
A teacher may hold valuable insight into your child’s various strengths as they pertain to a classroom setting. Ask your kid’s educator what they consider your child’s strengths. Then use the information to help fill out and guide your parenting decisions.
8. Does My Child Need Help in Any Areas?
Along with strengths, ask if your teacher can identify any areas where your child is struggling. They can often provide keen insight and even suggest specific ways to help.
For example, they could point out professional options to overcome academic struggles, such as hiring a subject-specific tutor for areas like math or physics. Social or emotional trials can also be addressed with a recommendation for a counselor or a therapist.
9. What Can I Do at Home to Support My Child’s Learning?
Along with professional help, you also want to ask if there are ways that you, yourself, can help your kids. They will often have further recommendations, such as encouraging them to get on a routine or exercise more.
If your child is primarily learning online, there are also many ways that you can help them with distance learning. Their teacher will likely be able to help you narrow down the best options.
10. What’s the Best Way to Communicate With You?
Ask your child’s teacher how you can best communicate with them. A parent-teacher conference is a great way to talk in an intimate and detailed manner. However, there will be times throughout the school year when you may want to reach out to your child’s teacher on a time-sensitive subject that can’t wait.
From email to text, phone calls, and more, make sure that you know the best way to get hold of your child’s educator should the need arise.
Try to go into your next parent-teacher conference with the right questions in mind. If you can do that, you can walk out of the meeting equipped with the best possible knowledge to help your child learn and grow.