Parent-teacher conferences: tips

a red apple on top of three textbooks on a desk with grey background
Parent-teacher conferences can make students and their grownups feel anxious, but it helps when you feel prepared. Like all good conversations, parent-teacher conferences are best when everyone involved talks and listens. This meeting is the time for you to find out about your student's progress in school and ask their teacher to show you information about their attendance, grades and test results. And to find out if your student is meeting school expectations and academic standards. This is also time for the teacher to find out how your student is at home. When you tell the teacher about your student's abilities, interests, needs, and dreams, the teacher can help them more. 

Here are some ideas to help you prepare for your next parent-teacher conference.

Main points for a successful meeting

  • Keep the emphasis on learning. 
  • Review samples of your student's work.
  • Listen carefully and take notes.
  • Ask questions.
  • Respect the conversation, stay calm.
  • Follow up if an action was decided upon.

Remember, your student absolutely deserves to receive the attention, commitment and support they need to be successful in school. And the parent-teacher conference is one valuable way you can ensure this is happening.  

Before the meeting

  • If you cannot attend the meeting on the day and time that it's scheduled, inform the teacher and request to reschedule.
  • Talk to your student about how they feel at school and how they think school is going.
  • Ask your student to share with you what they want to accomplish this school year.
  • If possible, set some learning goals together that you can share with their teacher.
  • Review homework, tests and grades (if you have them).
  • You will likely receive both positive feedback on your student's progress and feedback on areas that need improvement. Be prepared to ask questions about ways you and the teacher can help your student with some of their challenges.
  • If needed, request an interpreter beforehand; your child should not act as interpreter during the meeting.
  • Make a list of questions based on how your student is doing at school (see below for some sample questions).
  • If possible, send a note to the teacher with your questions ahead of time so they can prepare as well.

During the meeting

  • Thank the teacher for meeting with you.    
  • Ask about your student's academic development. 
  • Ask for evaluations and samples of your student's work.
  • Ask for ideas on how to help your student at home.
  • Ask for explanations of anything you do not understand.
  • Ask the teacher how they will contribute to your student's success.
  • Respectfully discuss differences of opinion.
  • Pay attention to the teacher’s comments and take notes on what is said and planned.
  • In many cases we do not have the precise words to respond to the teacher’s comments in the moment. It is fine to "sleep on it" or get a second opinion before making decisions/agreements.
  • Focus your comments on academics. If your student engages in behaviors that are affecting their learning or achievement, ask the teacher for a different meeting to discuss.
  • Ask that the school notify you as soon as possible about any inappropriate behaviors. It is important to your student's future that you take action immediately.
  • Likewise, ask the teacher not to wait until the parent-teacher conference to tell you about your student's performance.

After the meeting

  • Reflect on what topics were reviewed and what topics need a follow-up.
  • Make a plan to follow up on what you and the teacher agreed upon to help your student be successful in class.
  • Set a date to meet with the teacher again and keep in touch with the teacher.
  • Talk with your student.
  • Start working on an action plan or family agreement.
  • Learn more about the education system, the school curriculum, and the tests your student must take (the library can help!).

Possible questions for parent-teacher conferences
1. How is my student doing in your class? What are their grades?
2. Is my student attending a special class, program or group? Why? What is the purpose of having my student there?
3. Is my student on grade level for reading? What about math, science and writing? Do you have any recommendations for my student to improve their learning? (Note: If tutoring is mentioned, please check out our post on free tutoring resources.)
4. What do you suggest we do if we are at home and my student gets “stuck” on homework?
5. What are the most important and complex (content-related) ideas my student needs to understand by the end of the year? 
6. How do you measure academic progress?
7. Has my student failed to return any homework or project?
8. Does my student participate and express their opinions in class?
9. Overall, do you have any concerns about my student's academic progress?
10. What are the best school or district resources that we should consider using as a family to support our student in the classroom?
11. What can I do to help you and my student?
12. What is the best way for me to reach you?

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.