10 Questions to Ask at the Next Parent-Teacher Conference

By Huntington Learning Center

Parent-teacher conferences are coming up, and it’s important to go into these discussions prepared. One of the best ways to do so is to create a list of parent-teacher conference questions. Having a plan will help parents make parent-teacher conferences productive, and having a list of questions to ask the teacher is also a good idea. Use this parent-teacher conference “template” of questions as a starting point and adapt it as needed:  

  1. Does my child seem to have the study skills they need? Even in elementary school, students need to start developing study skills like organization and time management. In middle and high school, they need to be able to prioritize their nightly homework, maintain a planner, take quality notes and much more. Ask what kind of study skills are important for your child’s grade and if your child seems to be lacking or weak in any of them. 
  2. How is my child’s focus and attention during independent work time, lecture time and group work? As school becomes more challenging and teachers increase their expectations, it is critical that your child be able to focus during homework time and pay attention in class. Discuss with your child’s teachers whether they have any concerns about your child’s focus, attention and routines, and whether they see any signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 
  3. What weaknesses does my child have that need attention? This is probably the question most parents have in mind going into parent-teacher conferences and for good reason. If your child has one or more low grades, talk with those teachers about what is going on. And if your child is in elementary school and has just one teacher, ask where your child is below grade level and what is of the most concern. 
  4. Are you concerned about academic skill gaps? Low grades on homework are a red flag, but it’s important to find out what is causing them. Academic skill gaps are a common culprit of school struggles. These are the gaps between what students need to know and what they actually know. Learning loss can create skill gaps or cause small gaps to grow even larger, but there could be other things going on as well. Ask about this if it seems that your child is missing important skills and this is causing them to have difficulty with new material. 
  5. What do you think are my child’s strongest subjects and/or greatest strengths? Just as it is wise to get an update on areas of concern, you should make sure you know what your child’s strengths are too. These can open the door for college majors and career options and be a source of pride for your child. Nobody is perfect at all things, and most students have subjects they like more than others. Get a sense of this so you can help your child nurture their strengths. 
  6. Are there areas where my child is exceeding expectations? Perhaps this will come up when you ask about strong subjects, but it might be good for you to broaden this to other areas too. Maybe your child is a leader in the classroom, an exceptional listener, or a great peer to other students. Maybe they are a very strong reader. See what your child’s teacher has to say. 
  7. Do you have suggestions to promote time management and organization at home? Especially as your child moves into middle school and high school, time management and organization are skills they absolutely need to have. For some children, these come more easily as teachers introduce the concept of using planners. For others, these skills take practice. Your child’s teachers might have suggestions for you on how to help your child build these skills and reliable routines. 
  8. Are there behavioral issues you are concerned about? If nothing has come up thus far in the school year, you might not need to ask about this. However, if you are seeing behavioral issues at home or have noticed a change in your child’s demeanor that concerns you, ask your child’s teachers if they have noticed anything in the classroom. 
  9. What should we be doing to support our child at home? For younger children, it is good to ask about your role during homework time and what you should (and shouldn’t) do to facilitate your child’s learning. For middle school students, the discussion might focus on how to keep the student on track for high school academics or areas where you should step back and let your child build their independence. For high school students, perhaps there are college-related tasks you need to keep in mind. Teachers will appreciate you asking where you should be more or less involved and how you can best support your child’s learning. 
  10. Looking ahead to next year, what should we keep in mind? The end of the school year is just around the corner. Now is the time to make sure your child is where they need to be to succeed in the next grade. You might want to ask about class placement for next year (if your child is in middle or high school), what teachers are focusing on in the final months of the school year, and how to make sure your child will be equipped for success going forward. 

Parents who don’t give much thought to what to ask during parent-teacher conferences are missing a valuable opportunity to get an update on their child’s progress thus far in the school year. Good preparation for the conference will help you get the most out of it so you can guide your child effectively.  

If parent-teacher conferences don’t go well and you’re concerned that your child is on the road to getting a bad report card, parents should reach out to Huntington.

Huntington’s customized tutoring programs for students of all ages are designed to get to the root of any academic problems and correct them. Call 1-800 CAN LEARN to discuss how to help your child finish the school year as strong as possible.