It’s easy to blow off a parent-teacher conference. After all, how important can the conference be? Your teacher has the school side of things in hand, and you know your child. Right?
But there are questions that teachers wish you would ask, important questions to help the teacher, your student, and you, the parent.
What will the class be doing?
Start with the teacher’s expectations for the shape of the year (or semester, or quarter, as appropriate). What’s their planned curriculum? What kind of lesson plan do they have in mind? Will their class be essay-heavy or a series of weekly worksheets and quizzes? Will there be important tests? Can you get those dates, so you can help your child prepare? If this is middle or high school, ask questions about the syllabus, and make sure to keep it.
How can I help my child?
Once you’ve got a handle on what the class will be doing, this question is the obvious follow-up. Will they need encouraged to go to the library? Oversight on their homework? If they’ve been struggling, does the teacher recommend tutoring or some additional help?
What is my child like as a student?
The whole reason these meetings aren’t in the first week of September is so the teacher can answer this one. Ask for details about their in-class behavior; are they active in discussion? Do they finish their homework sitting at their desk before class? How do they behave in group work? This will lead naturally into talk about your student’s academic abilities, and Teacher’s expectations for them through the term.
What is my child like in class?
This question is distinct from the last one; this is where you ask how they interact with the other students. Do they have a lot of friends? One close friend? Class clown or do they sit in the back of the room? You know your kid, you might be able to predict most of these answers, but you might well be surprised.
Your child’s education is a collaboration between them, you, and their teachers. Asking these questions will give you the tools you need to do your part.