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The 8 questions every parent should ask at parent-teacher conferences

By Scott Evans, Community Investment Corporation

Can you believe it is already almost time for parent-teacher conferences?

Parent-teacher nights are coming up soon. This is a great first step in engaging with the teacher and supporting your child. This is your opportunity to form a relationship with the teacher and learn more about the time your child spends at school.

So let’s get prepared!

Why Are Parent/Teacher Conferences Important?

There is no magic wand for you to wave that will increase your child’s chances at school success. However, researchers have continually pointed to one key success factor: family engagement or parental involvement. Research has shown that students whose parents are involved in their education have better attendance, get better grades, demonstrate better social skills, and have less disciplinary issues.

Dive into the research here:

Two adults reviewing paperwork in a classroom

What Should I Expect at the Parent/Teacher Conference?

In most cases, your time will be limited, as the teacher has many families to meet with during the week of conferences. Therefore, coming prepared with questions will help ensure the conversation touches on things you want to know. Here are some tips to help you get started!

  • Meetings are typically held at the school, in-person and one-on-one.
  • Meeting length is typically 15-30 minutes in length (so time will be limited).
  • Ask questions that will help you gain insight into your child’s performance and behavior during class time.

Tips to Team Up with Your Teacher

You are the expert of your child at home and your teacher is the expert in the classroom. Be prepared to share and help the teacher get to know your child.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions… even if you are afraid to hear the answer OR you think you already know the answer.

You don’t have to be an expert in reading and math to advocate for your child. But, you certainly can learn how to better support your child academically. Find out what your child is expected to learn, what “grade level” looks like in key subjects, and how you can best support them at home.

Go beyond grades! Grades are only part of the story. There are many other important child development milestones and qualities to nurture. Inquire about listening skills, social and emotional skills and character development.

8 Essential Questions to Ask the Teacher!

To be best prepared for these meetings here are 8 of the most important questions to ask during a parent/teacher conference.

  1. How do you prefer to communicate? (Email, phone, text, school app, planner)
  2. In what moments do you see my child thriving and struggling?
  3. How does my child get along with other students and teachers? (Do they have friends, include others, being left out, etc.)
  4. Does my child ask questions and advocate for themselves when they don’t understand?
  5. What are the key grade level math and reading skills my child is expected to learn this year?
  6. How will I as a parent/guardian know if and when my child is struggling or excelling academically?
  7. How can I best support my child at home?
  8. How can I best support you (the teacher)?

Hopefully, these questions will help make your parent/teacher conference productive, insightful and informative. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity to engage with your child’s teacher and learn how you can best set your child up for success!

For more research on Family Engagement visit the Research Blog at the Annie E. Casey Foundation
For more family resources and a Parent’s Guide to Student Success visit the National PTA

Scott Evans

Scott Evans is currently the Director of Family and School Engagement at Community Investment Corporation (CIC) and is also the Director of MySchoolsTucson.org. He has his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. His experience includes over 15 years of experience working as the Director of Counseling in both public and private education. In addition, Scott has coached high school sports for over 20 years. He has dedicated much of his life to serving children and their families.

Community Investment Corporation

Community Investment Corporation’s (CIC) goal is to promote economic inclusion for all members of southern Arizona, regardless of socioeconomic status. Our work ensures that more people in our community can buy homes, can access the education they want for their children, and can get the funding they need to start, sustain, and grow their small businesses. CIC proudly powers MySchoolsTucson.org. to ensure that all Pima County families have access to free, accurate, and unbiased information about schools so that they can make informed decisions about their child’s education. For more information please visit https://cictucson.org/