Getting Ready for Preschool Parent-Teacher Conferences

Child raising hand while singing with others and teacher in preschool
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Parent-teacher conferences may seem unnecessary in preschool. After all, it's not as though your child is being graded on playing or snack time. But these conferences are actually an important part of your child's preschool or childcare experience. When you meet with your child's teacher, you learn a lot about your little one, from their strengths and weaknesses to how they interact with other kids.

Meetings like these are an important part of the overall, ongoing communication you have with your child's care providers. They give you a chance to spend more time with the teachers focusing on just your child (as opposed to quick check-ins at the beginning and end of the day). And they allow you to get feedback and ask questions, unlike one-way communication tools, such as newsletters or daily activity logs.

Think of a preschool parent-teacher conference as your eyes and ears into a world that you aren't normally a part of.

Before and During Conferences

Before you go into your child's parent-teacher conference, it's a good idea to have a quick talk with your child. Do they like preschool? What is their favorite part? What don't they like? What do they think of their daily schedule, the activities they do, their classmates, and their teachers? Also, consider any questions or feedback you may have about the school, the curriculum, and your child's experience.

Write everything down, so you don't forget. Parent-teacher conferences are an opportunity to get one-on-one time with your child's teacher, so you don't want to miss out. Bring a pen and paper with you as well, so you can take notes as you chat.

Be Open-Minded

Everyone wants to hear good things about their child, but no child is perfect. If your preschooler's teacher mentions something that could be a problem—whether it is a behavior issue or what the teacher thinks could be a speech delay or some other developmental delay—aim to listen to what they have to say with an open mind.

Then, work together to come up with a plan of action. If you need time to think it over, say so, and see if the teacher is available at another time. Remember, you and your child's reach share a common goal, which is to help your child succeed.

Ask for Specifics

If the teacher mentions that your child is having trouble socializing in the classroom, for example, ask them to provide you with specific details. You'll have a better sense of what is going on, and may be able to provide some insight.

For example, if your child pushed a classmate last Wednesday, you may remember that they had gone to bed later the night before and were very cranky in the morning.

Offer Specifics

Communication is truly a two-way street. If there is something going on at home—the birth of a new sibling, a move, a divorce, a death in the family—definitely let the teacher know what is going on.

Aim to share these issues sooner rather than later, even if you need to ask for a conference outside of the normal schedule. Even if your child is behaving fine at home, life events like these can definitely impact a child's behavior.

Create a Plan

At the end of the conference, make sure you know what the next steps are, if any, and the best way to contact your child's teacher. If the teacher has indicated they need to get you more information, find out when they'll have it to you by and when you should follow up.

6 Questions for Your Child's Teacher

In addition to any questions you want to ask, if these topics don't come up during the conversation, be sure to ask about them.

Teacher Interactions

Find out how your child interacts with their main teacher and with other staff members. Ask how your child responds to caregivers. To zero in on this, you could ask how your child asks for help if they need it, or what they do if they are feeling sad, frustrated, or hurt.

Peer Interactions

Ask how your child interacts with the other children. Learn more about how your child socializes with their classmates. Do they participate in group play? Do they have specific classmates they gravitate towards? Does the teacher have any feedback or concerns about their social skills?

Development

Ask the teacher if they notice any issues with your child's development for their age. Preschool is more about building social and emotional skills than academic ones, but teachers are good at spotting the signs of all kinds of developmental delays. Their teacher should also let you know where your child is flourishing as well.

Note that it is normal for children to reach developmental milestones and related skills at different rates. Unless they are well below the expected age range for reaching a skill, they may just be achieving it a bit later than some of their peers. Contact your doctor if you or their teacher have any concerns about a significant delay.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Learn about what the teacher thinks are your child's strengths and weaknesses. Don't feel like you are just asking the teacher to brag about your child. Teachers have a unique perspective, and since you're not in the classroom, you don't see what they see. Follow up by asking what you can do at home to help work on any areas that need to be addressed or reinforced.

Academic Learning

Also, ask what your child will be learning this year. Knowing this helps you support your child's learning at home, whether it's with books from the library, special outings, or just conversations around the dinner table.

Following Rules

Find out how well your child follows the rules and instructions. Preschool helps prepare kids for kindergarten and first grade by helping them learn how to act in a group and in a classroom. It can also be helping to learn how your child is doing with concepts such as taking turns, obeying school rules, and paying attention.

A Word From Verywell

Even in preschool, parent-teacher conferences serve an important purpose. These conferences provide an opportunity to get one-on-one feedback from your preschooler's teacher and learn about how your child navigates their world when you're not around. Be sure to ask any questions you have as you learn more about your child's school experience, and use the opportunity to get to know their teacher and school environment.

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8 Sources
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