Parent teacher meetings are anxiety provoking for many parents. Sometimes it is the first time we meet our children’s teachers. Then there are the added pressures of waiting around, time limits on meetings and not knowing what to ask our children’s teachers. Typically, we ask how our child is doing in the teacher’s class, but when your child has special needs, there is more information you need to know.
How to prepare for parent teacher meetings
Preparation is key to a successful parent teacher meeting. First, ask your children questions about school such as:
- How do they think school is going?
- What do they like the least and the most?
- Are there subjects they need more help with?
- How they are getting along with their classmates?
- Is any student picking on them?
- What would they change if they could?
Then, make a list of topics to cover at the meeting. Put your most important concerns at the top because you may not have enough time to cover all the topics. Bring the list to the meeting so you can tick off the questions you cover. If you have complaints, bring examples if you can. For example, if you are concerned about the amount of homework, bring information on assignments from one or two nights and the length of time your child spent on them.
Questions to ask at parent teacher meetings
Here are examples of questions to include on your agenda if they apply to your child:
- Is my child happy in your class or at school?
- How would you describe my child’s motivation to learn?
- Is my child keeping up with her peers? If not, do you know why? How can we improve this?
- Is he actively participating in class discussions – asking/answering questions?
- How is her attention/concentration?
- Do you think handwriting is a struggle for my child?
- Does my child understand what she is reading?
- How are my child’s organizational skills?
- How is my child doing socially? Does he have friends? Does he play with other children during breaks?
- Do you think my child is making enough effort at school?
- How are my child’s test taking skills?
- Does my child get overly stressed or anxious before tests?
- How is my child’s mood at school or in your class?
- Do you have any non-academic concerns?
- What progress are you making toward the goals on my child’s IEP?
- What are your expectations of my child? Is she meeting those expectations? If not, are the expectations realistic given your child’s age and ability?
- Is my child getting enough support to succeed in your class? If not, what supports do you recommend?
- Are there any behavioural issues? If so, ask for examples.
- Were any assessments or standardized tests of my child done? If so, ask about the results
- Are you happy with my child’s homework?
- How much time should my child spend on homework?
- What factors do you use when evaluating/grading a pupil’s performance?
- What should I do at home to help my child?
Here are some last tips:
- If the teacher raises any concerns about your child, ask for specific examples to help understand the problems.
- Inform the teacher about any issues at home that may affect your child’s schoolwork.
- If you are happy with all or part of the work your child’s teacher is doing, make sure to tell her.
- Ask the teacher about the best way to contact him or her if an issue arises or you have a question.
- Because of the time limits, you probably will not get to all your questions. So, before you leave the meeting ask for an appointment to discuss any remaining issues.
- Bring a notebook and take notes as it is easy to forget what was said or agreed upon during these meetings.
- Keep in mind that you need to maintain a good working relationship with your child’s school. So it is important to avoid being argumentative or confrontational. Remember, you are both working toward the same goal – helping your child achieve her potential