Building a Partnership with Your Child’s Teachers at Conferences

Conferences are a regular part of school communication between teachers and families. Sometimes they can produce anxiety for parents who aren’t sure what to expect, or how to approach the meetings. As a parent, you might feel both nervous and excited thinking about the prospect of having the teacher’s undivided attention to discuss your own child.

Here are some tips to help you feel more at ease, and get the most of your conferences:

  • Write down any questions and concerns you have before the meeting, and be sure to discuss them with your partner prior to the meeting. If your questions are not answered during the natural course of the meeting, make sure to ask them at the end. Teachers want parents to ask questions that they have on their minds. If there isn’t time (because the meetings can be short), ask to schedule a follow up meeting as soon as possible. 

  • Make sure to keep your scheduled time, and arrive early if you can. This allows you time to settle in and relax before the meeting begins. 

  • Take some time before the meeting to read the stories, look through the math journal, and check out the materials your child is engaging in every day. Understandably, it is hard to see everything at drop-off, and not all of it comes home straight away. This is a good chance to catch up and refresh!

  • Sometimes, conferences can be hard. Occasionally teachers do have to share information that is concerning, or raises questions. Trust that the teachers are coming from a place of support and want to partner with you in thinking about how to address a need or concern. Try to be open, but ask clarifying questions if you need to. 

  • Always let teachers know if something is happening at home that might be impacting your child in school. Sometimes this is as little as going through a picky eating phase, or not sleeping enough. Other times, there might be something more pressing and serious. Use your discretion as to what you are comfortable sharing with teachers, but know that it is confidential. If you prefer, you can always speak with the Development Support Counselor or the Dean of Students for matters that may require more support.  

Most conferences will cover the topics listed below, but here are some specific areas of development related to social-emotional and cognitive growth to ask about:

For ages 2, 3 and 4 –

  • Language development and social interactions

  • Specific interests and passions that are developing

  • Things to do at home to promote resilience and independence

  • Suggestions for play dates

More generally for kindergarten through age 10 –

  • Emergent literacy, math skills, and interest (K and 6s)

  • General approach to work and work habits

  • Areas of academic growth and need

  • Negotiation skills and peer relationships

  • Specific interests and passions that are developing

  • Things to do at home to promote resilience and independence