For both parents and teachers alike, parent-teacher conferences can be particularly nerve-wracking! These meetings, you may already know, are ultimate opportunities for teachers to share successes and concerns, and for parents to find out how their little one has been getting on in the classroom. Since these meetings are quite infrequent, it’s important to get as much out of them as possible!
This blog post is here to provide you with some tips on how both parents and teachers can work to make their conferences successful. These tips are aimed at both parents and teachers, and will help you with your conferences for a range of age groups, whether your child is in preschool or elementary school! From effective communication to dealing with potential issues, here are the best parent-teacher conference tips to help you have the best meeting you can.
- Parent Teacher Conference Tips for New Teachers
- Parent Teacher Conference Tips for Parents
- Preschool Parent Teacher Conference Tips
1. Make sure you are well prepared
As a new teacher, your first parent-teacher conference with a new class may feel overwhelming, especially when you’re still getting to grips with your new job! To help with any nerves and to make you feel as prepared as possible, it’s important to ensure you have planned beforehand and have some notes beside you.
Make sure you have got the child’s grades, gold stars (or time outs!) to hand so you can give exact numbers on how they are doing, especially if the parents ask. It can also help you refresh yourself with any previous issues or communication with that particular parent, so you are as up-to-date as you can be when the meeting begins. As you go through the school year, it might be good to keep some projects in mind for when the conference comes up if you have a little while to go yet!
As well as helping you decide what to discuss in each meeting, preparing will also make you feel ready and confident for the occasion, giving you that extra boost you might need before the meetings!
2. Create a positive and friendly environment
The best way to welcome parents for the first time is to ensure your meeting environment is friendly and welcoming! This could include holding the meeting in your classroom as opposed to an office or hall so you can show off all the fantastic work your pupils have been completing!
This also means making sure you are being as friendly and as polite as possible with your pupils’ parents to create a positive relationship and ensure the conference is constructive. Greet the parents with a beaming smile and shake their hand as they walk into the room to be polite.
3. Start with the child’s successes
While it’s important to make sure any concerns are addressed, starting the conference by speaking about the child’s positive behavior, achievements or homework is a great way to show your enthusiasm for teaching their child! Pointing out the positives first will make the parents feel instantly proud and believe you’re having a very good impact on their learning.
4. Make parents aware of the grade-scales in an easy way
During the meeting, make sure you make reference to where the child is in terms of what is expected grade-wise from them. This will help parents understand how their child is progressing and whether they are on target, a question they will most likely ask you!
That being said, ensure that you explain the grade-scales, projects and other terms used among the teachers in your school so that the parents can fully understand what you are referring to.
5. Address any concerns in a constructive way
It can be very daunting to bring up concerns you have about a child to their parents, but this can be made slightly easier by ensuring every concern is portrayed in a constructive way. For example, if you are concerned about Joe’s concentration in class since he is always getting distracted by Charlie, you can explain to the parents that you are planning to separate the pair and put Joe on a different table. Or, if you are worried about Olivia’s reading level, you can advise the parents to read more frequently per day at home with her, or give her some extra practice sheets.
6. Ask the parents if they have any questions
When you have finished sharing with the child’s parents, it’s important to ask them whether they have any particular questions for you. This shows that you are willing to be as transparent as possible and that you’re open to dealing with any concerns they might have. It also reinforces your enthusiasm for the little one’s learning, showing you want the best for them and your commitment to your role as their teacher!
7. Learn to keep calm
Unfortunately, you could meet parents who become quite hostile towards you, particularly after you have discussed some concerns. Before the conference, make sure you learn to keep yourself calm in the situation and not argue back with them to stay professional! This could be even more difficult as a first-time teacher, so get familiar with some techniques for keeping calm in case the situation turns tense.
1. Arrive to the conference on time
As well as showing good manners, it’s important to make sure you attend your parent-teacher conference on time to ensure you get the most out of your time together! This means there will be plenty of time to ask any questions you might have after your child’s teacher shares any important information with you.
2. Approach your child’s teacher in a polite and friendly manner
This might seem obvious, but making sure you walk into the classroom with a smile on your face and hand out ready to shake will give a really good impression and set the tone for the conference! Even if you might have some concerns to share with your child’s teacher, being polite and friendly is a great way to make you both feel comfortable and ready to have an open and honest conversation.
3. Ask for an overview of your child’s performance
Naturally, your child’s teacher may lead the start of the meeting by sharing any important points, however it’s great to find out an overview of how your child is getting on in the classroom! For example, if you’d like to find out how your child has been interacting in their new year group, or if they have shown any particular interest in a topic, make sure to ask!
4. Ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand
Asking a question if your child’s teacher mentions something you aren’t sure about is a fantastic way to ensure your time together is well spent! For example, if your child’s teacher says your child did some impressive work in their recent topic, you can ask which topic in particular they are referring to, in order to get an idea of your child’s interests and strengths.
5. Find out if there is anything you can support with
Learning continues to take place outside of the classroom, so make sure to ask if there’s anything more you can do at home to support your little one! For example, if your child’s teacher has mentioned they are struggling a bit with their reading, you could spend some time together reading to give them extra practice.
Preschool parent-teacher conferences are always exciting, since this is the first time parents will be experiencing a meeting with their little one’s teacher! As we all know, preschool is a critical learning time for children, especially as they prepare to start big school. Here are some tips for successful parent teacher conferences when your little one is in preschool.
1. Parents, have a chat with your little one about preschool
Before you attend the meeting, it’s a great idea to have a casual chat with your child about preschool so you can find out what they think of it! Finding out if they enjoy going, and what they like and dislike about it, is very useful to report to your little one’s teacher. Make sure you write their answers down and bring them to the meeting so you don’t forget!
2. Parents, make sure to ask about your child’s interaction skills
Since preschool children learn a lot through play and other activities, as opposed to forms of written work in elementary schools, it’s important to find out how your little one is interacting with their peers, teachers and other members of staff. This can help you get an idea of what you might need to practice at home, for example saying “please” and “thank you,” or taking turns playing with toys.
3. Teachers, share as much as possible with parents
While parent-teacher conferences are limited in time, it’s important to share as much about the child’s behavior and learning as possible! For example, if you have any concerns that the child may be experiencing a developmental delay of some sort, it’s vital to make the parents aware so they can support their child even more at home.
4. Teachers, create a plan for going forward
The best way to leave a parent-teacher conference is to have a plan going forward, and how you and the child’s parents can support their development! This will show your enthusiasm for the little one’s learning and the parents will no doubt be pleased that you have created a plan of how you can best help them succeed. For example, this could include doing some separate activities with them to enhance their speech, or having calming conversations with them if they sometimes misbehave.
We hope these tips will help you, whether you’re a teacher or parent, for when your next parent-teacher conference creeps up on you! Good luck!