The Most Important Questions To Ask At A Parent Teacher Meeting

I often think the general 15-minute slot for a parent-teacher meeting is way too short.

I often think the general 15-minute slot for a parent-teacher meeting is way too short. This is a window into a different world your child is living in. A world that for the most part you’re not a part of.
You have the chance to see how your child is as an individual when you’re not around. Utilise this time and asking the right questions is essential in doing this.
Child Information:
Start the conversation by talking about the most important topic- your child.
  • May I Tell You About My Child: No one knows your child better than you do, so it's your job to help your child's teacher learn more. Provide your child's teacher with more information on what motivates your child, likes and dislikes, special skills, strengths and weaknesses.
  • May I Tell You About What's Going on at Home?: Situations like illness, divorce or a new baby may affect your child's school experience, so inform your child's teacher of such circumstances.
  • How Is My Child Doing Socially?: How the child functions socially in the class is a topic that should be top of your list. Always ask how your child gets on with their peers.
  • How Is My Child Doing Emotionally?: It's also important to ask about your child's emotional health at school. For example, is your child generally happy?
  • In What Areas Does My Child Need Improvement?: Your child's teacher sees him from a different perspective than you do. Ask the teacher what personal weaknesses your child needs to work on, and listen to the response with an open mind. 
  • What Do You Think My Child Is Particularly Good at?: Find out about the good stuff, too. Ask about personal strengths that will extend beyond school.
General Questions:

It always helps to get a grasp of the school curriculum and how the teacher approaches teaching in general. Here are some questions that can help:
  • What skills are being addressed in class right now, and how do they tie into the overall goals of the school year?
  • Is my child keeping up with the work?
  • Could you outline the schedule of a typical day?
  • How often you do you schedule tests?
  • How are the tests marked?
  • What can I do at home to reinforce what my child's learning?
  • What type of discipline do you use in the classroom?
  • What is your homework policy?
Questions If Your Child Is Struggling Academically:
There are ways to participate if your child is struggling with school work. Don't be shy to ask the hard questions, such as:
  • At what level should my child be at in relation to his or her studies?
  • Where specifically is my child struggling?
  • Which subjects are the most challenging for my child?
  • Is my child having problems just on tests or with school work in general?
  • Does my child respond better to certain types of teaching (like oral instruction) and less so to others (such as reading)?
  • Might my child have a learning disability?
  • What types of supports are available to help my child keep up with his or her classmates?
  • Do you think an evaluation is needed?
  • What should I be doing as a parent?
Questions If Your Child Is Not Getting Along With a Teacher:
Parent-teacher conferencesprovide you the opportunity to intervene if any school relationship is standing in the way of your child's academic goals. This includes problems with teachers.
Here is what you should ask:
  • What is my child's attitude like in class?
  • Do you believe that you and my child are getting along productively?
  • What do you think is causing my child to feel frustrated or unhappy?
  • What challenges are you finding difficult to overcome?
  • How do you traditionally respond to these challenges?
  • Can I offer my own insights as to what I see at home?
  • What can we do, as the teacher and parent, to overcome these challenges?
Questions If Your Child Is Having Trouble With Peers:
School life can often stand in the way of a child's true potential and needs to be addressed if your child is either distressed, withdrawn, or failing to meet his or her full potential. You should take the time to ask:
  • How is my child getting along with the other children in class?
  • Does he or she have problems socializing?
  • Is my child having problems with other kids?
  • Is my child being bullied?
  • Is my child bullying others?
  • How do you deal with bullies, and does the school have a bullying policy?
  • Who can I speak to if a bullying problem is not being resolved?
  • What can you do to help my child overcome this?
Parent-teacher meetings are about understanding how your child is getting on in class. The above questions cover a wide range of concerns that parents might have and can help get the conversation between you and the teacher going. However, you will most likely have to arrange another meeting with the teacher to discuss many of the above in detail. 

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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