Parent Teacher Meetings

1.  Preparation

  • Subjects – Talk to your child about the subjects they are studying and try to come to grips with the various challenges that each subject brings with it. There may be issues such as content difficulty, amount of homework, level of follow up on homeworkLook at the textbooks before you go so that you have a better idea of what is involved in each subject.
  • Teacher’s names – often the school will supply a list and you need to go through this with your child before the meeting. If the school does not supply a list of names then get your child to make one for you.
  • Review previous reports – remind yourself of teacher’s comments about previous tests and bring these with you to the meeting.
  • Look at problems from your child’s point of view – discuss this in an open way before the meeting.
  • Sometimes children suffer in silence – allow them the space to open up about any problems they may be experiencing.

2.  The meeting 

  • Notebook – always bring a notebook to keep track of all the comments made by eachWithout notes it may be very difficult afterwards to be sure of who said what.
  • Homework – ask the teacher about their expectations for homework for their subject.
  • Time constraints – usually there are a lot of parents queuing to see the teachers so your time slot is limited. However if there is something particularly important that you wish to discuss, don’t rushIf there are major issues to be covered, then a general PTM is probably not the right place to attempt this and you should arrange a private meeting where time may be not a limiting factor.
  • Agree on any actions required on either side – if the child is experiencing problems at school, it is important for parents and teachers to share the responsibility for creating a working relationshiphelps children's learning and development. If your child has learning difficulties clarify what help is available and other courses of action that needs to be addressed.
  • Keep an open mind - you may find the teacher has constructive criticism about yourKeep an open mind about the teacher's comments. Neither your child nor his teacher is perfect, so if a problem arises it's important to consider both sides of the story. The best solution is one that helps your child to succeed in school.

3.  Back home 

  • Sharing the knowledge in a positive way - let your child know what you discussed and if you and the teacher made any decisions or came to anyIf there are problems try to put the focus on looking for solutions rather than finding someone to blame.
  • Plan for the future – being in school and trying to keep on top of subjects is always a challenge, if there are difficulties then try to work out an agreedThe student has to be the prime mover in designing and implementing the plan.
  • Identify difficulties – make a list of the problems and set targets for solving some of them at any one time.
  • Become a partner in your child’s education – make positive comments wherever you can and be slow to blame.
  • It helps to adopt an open and mature view especially if there are difficulties.  

Sample Questions

Obviously emphasis and questions change as your child makes his or her way up through the school, but here is a range of example questions you may find useful.


  1. What area is s/he best at?
  2. Is s/he working to the best of his /her ability?
  3. Does s/he comprehend what s/he reads?
  4. Are there any areas s/he finds difficult? If so what are these specific areas?
  5. Do you have any suggestions as to what I might do at home to help?
  6. Does s/he participate in class?
  7. How does s/he relate to others in the class?
  8. Does s/he hand up homework /assignments on time, completed and at an acceptable level?
  9. How does s/he compare with the rest of the class?
  10. Does s/he have difficulty paying attention/following instructions/organising work or notes?
  11. Is there anything about his/her performance or behaviour that you are concerned about?
  12. Is s/he coping with the particular subject level?
  13. How does s/he cope with exam stress?


Parent–Teacher Conferences: A Tip Sheet for Parents

As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. You and your child’s school have something in common: You both want your child to learn and do well. When parents and teachers talk to each other, each person can share important information about your child’s talents and needs. Each person can also learn something new about how to help your child. Parent–teacher conferences are a great way to start talking to your child’s teachers. This tip sheet suggests ways that you can make the most of parent-teacher conferences so that everyone wins, especially your child.


What should you expect?  

A two-way conversation. Like all good conversations, parent–teacher conferences are best when both people talk and listen. The conference is a time for you to learn about your child’s progress in school: Ask to see data about your child’s attendance, grades, and test scores. Find out whether your child is meeting school expectations and academic standards. This is also a time for the teacher to learn about what your child is like at home. When you tell the teacher about your child’s skills, interests, needs, and dreams, the teacher can help your child more.

Emphasis on learning. Good parent–teacher conferences focus on how well the child is doing in school. They also talk about how the child can do even better. To get ready for the conversation, look at your child’s homework, tests, and notices before the conference. Be sure to bring a list of questions that you would like to ask the teacher.

Opportunities and challenges.  Just like you, teachers want your child to succeed. You will probably hear positive feedback about your child’s progress and areas for improvement. Be prepared by thinking about your child’s strengths and challenges beforehand. Be ready to ask questions about ways you and the teacher can help your child with some of his or her challenges.


What should you talk to the teacher about?

Progress. Find out how your child is doing by asking questions like: Is my child performing at grade level? How is he or she doing compared to the rest of the class? What do you see as his or her strengths? How could he or she improve?

Assignments and assessments. Ask to see examples of your child’s work. Ask how the teacher gives grades.

Your thoughts about your child. Be sure to share your thoughts and feelings about your child. Tell the teacher what you think your child is good at. Explain what he or she needs more help with.

Support learning at home. Ask what you can do at home to help your child learn. Ask if the teacher knows of other programs or services in the community that could also help your child.

Support learning at school. Find out what services are available at the school to help your child. Ask how the teacher will both challenge your child and support your child when he or she needs it.


How should you follow up?

Make a plan. Write down the things that you and the teacher will each do to support your child. You can do this during the conference or after. Write down what you will do, when, and how often. Make plans to check in with the teacher in the coming months.

Schedule another time to talk. Communication should go both ways. Ask how you can contact the teacher. And don’t forget to ask how the teacher will contact you too. There are many ways to communicate—in person, by phone, notes, email. Make a plan that works for both of you. Be sure to schedule at least one more time to talk in the next few months.

Talk to your child. The parent–teacher conference is all about your child, so don’t forget to include him or her. Share with your child what you learned. Show him or her how you will help with learning at home. Ask for his or her suggestions.


For more resources on family involvement, visit Harvard Family Research ProjectHarvard Graduate School of Education3 Garden StreetCambridge, MA02138 Website: www.hfrp.orgEmail: hfrp@gse.harvard.eduTel: 617-495-9108Fax: 617-495-8594






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