Questions to Ask at a Parent-Teacher Conference

How to Identify and Overcome Challenges at School

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Parent-teacher conferences are missed opportunities if you don't get involved. They can provide you much-needed insights into your child's learning style, interactions with others, growth opportunities, and even the teaching styles your child is being exposed to.

Parent-teacher conferences are designed to be a dialogue wherein parents can offer insights and advice to teachers if they feel an academic opportunity is being missed.

With this mind, here are 40 questions you can ask if your child is struggling with (or being under-challenged by) academics or school life in general.

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 curriculum?
  • Could you outline the schedule of a typical day or classroom period?
  • How often you do you schedule tests?
  • How are the tests graded?
  • What impact do those grades have on my child's academic future?
  • What can I do at home to reinforce what my child's learning?
  • What type of discipline do you use in the classroom?
  • What are your views on homework, and what is your homework policy?

Questions If Your Child Isn't Being Challenged

While some parents approach parent-teacher conferences as a means to identify their child's strengths and weaknesses, there are some kids who are not being challenged enough by the school curriculum. In cases like these, it is important to ask:

  • What can be done if my child is not being challenged enough?
  • Does the school have a gifted and talented program?
  • What type of testing is required to see if my child qualifies?
  • Can you recommend some enrichment activities to support my child's learning?
  • What opportunities does my child have for independent, student-led learning?

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 performing in his or her studies?
  • Where specifically is my child is falling short?
  • 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 a special education evaluation is needed?
  • What should I be doing as a parent?

Questions If Your Child Is Not Getting Along With a Teacher

Parent-teacher conferences provide 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. While the subject should never be approached as a confrontation, you may need to arbitrate if the problem is ongoing.

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

Parent-teacher conferences should not be about grades and grades alone. School life can often stand in the way of child's true potential and needs to be addressed if your child is either distressed, withdrawn, or failing to meet his or her academic goals.

You should take the time to ask:

  • How is my child getting along with others 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?
  • Are there peer group skills programs that can help my child?
  • What can you do to help my child overcome these challenges?
  • What can I do to help my child make friends and interact more productively?
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