Parent-teacher interviews provide the best opportunity to learn about your child's progress, and are an important step in creating positive home/school communication.
How to prepare for the interview
Before the conference with the teacher:
- Make a list of any general or specific questions that you want to ask your child's teacher(s).
- Ask your child what he/she would like you to ask or tell his/her teacher.
- Think about any specific information you will need to let the teacher know—for example, any home or family changes that the teacher needs to be sensitive to, any health issues that affect your child, any recent family deaths or dramatic changes that have had an impact on your child, etc.
- Consider what special things you would like the teacher to know about your child.
During the interview
Do your best to be on time for your interview. In order to fit everyone in, teachers have to stick to a fairly tight schedule during the interview hours. If you have to cancel your appointment, phone the school to let them know and you can re-book for another meeting date.
- Begin on a positive note. Mention something that your child enjoys about school or the particular classroom they are in.
- Make sure that you check up on your child's social interactions at school as well as his/her academic progress. Ask the teacher how your child gets along with others and if there is anything in particular that you should know about his/her social and emotional progress. Also, ask about your child's work habits, behaviour, participation and learning style.
- Let the teacher know your child's interests, hobbies, and strengths, as well as areas where he/she needs extra encouragement.
- Don't hesitate to make notes while the teacher is talking so that you will remember what he/she said once you get home.
- Ask the teacher about the classroom rules and discipline, homework procedures and overall expectations for students.
- If the teacher raises problems, don't get angry or defensive. Remember that talking together is the best way to make sure that these issues are addressed before they grow bigger and that your child has the support he/she needs to make improvements. Ask questions, share ideas that have worked for you at home and be an active part of planning ways to make things better.
- Ask the teacher what is the most important thing you can do at home to support your child's learning.
- End the conference on a positive note.
After the conference
When you get home from the conference:
- Speak honestly with your child about the discussion you had with his/her teacher. Tell your child both the positive feedback and any problem areas that were discussed, as well as plans that you and the teacher made to help your child make improvements.
- Start right away on any plans for improvement and be very consistent. This helps show your child that you consider them important and that everyone (parent, teacher and child) can work together to make positive changes. It also models for your child how to take on problems and turn them around.
- If you have a partner or spouse who was unable to attend the conference, fill them in on the information as soon as possible.
- Keep in regular contact with the teacher.