10 Questions To Ask Your Child’s Teacher for a Productive Conversation

There’s not much time to chat with your child’s teacher during the school year — besides the dreaded phone call home about classroom behavior or a quick email about grades. That’s where the parent-teacher conference comes in — but how effective can fifteen minutes really be? If you’re asking the right questions, that conference can establish the parent, teacher, and student as a true learning team with a shared goal.

parents meeting with school teacher to ask questions parents meeting with school teacher to ask questions
Advertisement

Good Questions To Ask Teachers

Teachers may start the conference with some updates about your child, or they may ask if you have any questions right away. Either way, it’s good to be prepared. 

Jot some of these questions down before heading into your parent-teacher conference, and don’t be afraid to take notes about the answers for future reference.

How Is My Child Doing Emotionally?

One of the most important parts of a child’s education is their social-emotional development — and it’s often one of the least mentioned parts of a parent-teacher conference. 

Parents should know if their child seems sad or stressed in the classroom, and they can clue teachers into any home dynamics that may be contributing to these emotions.

How Is My Child’s Attitude in Class?

Related to your child’s emotional development is their attitude. Is your child shy or eager to please? Do they roll their eyes during lectures or listen attentively? 

Teachers are often reluctant to bring up a child’s attitude for fear of offending a parent, so they appreciate when you’re the one to bring it up. It may be hard to hear, but it's important to ask.

How Are My Child’s Social Skills?

While you may hear all about the latest playground drama from your child, chances are that some details may be missing. Asking your child’s teacher about how your child socializes is a good way to get the truth, and can help you assist your child with social issues in the future.

Is My Child Reading and Performing at Grade Level?

While it’s tempting to spend the entire conference asking about grades and academics, there’s really only one academic takeaway a parent needs: Is your child’s performance generally in line with what the teacher expects at that grade level?

If the answer is “yes,” the rest of the details don’t matter as much. If the answer is “no,” there may be some follow-up questions you need to ask.

Advertisement

Do You Have Immediate Concerns About My Child?

One of those questions should be about what concerns a teacher has about your child. The teacher may be less concerned about a child who isn’t reading at grade level but has made vast improvements, for example, than a child who is reading well but hasn’t improved at all. This question can also go beyond academics into other aspects of your child’s education.

What Are My Child’s Areas of Growth?

If the parent-teacher conference is at the beginning of the year, it’s good to ask about what the teacher identifies as the child’s biggest opportunity for growth. At the end-of-the-year conference, you can then readdress this question to see if your child has made strides in this area or not.

What Is Your Goal for Your Students in This Grade?

Learn what goals the teacher has for their students this year. A kindergarten teacher may focus on fundamental reading skills and classroom management, while a high school teacher may want their students to write a full essay without assistance. 

Understanding a teacher’s focus can reveal a lot about their teaching philosophy, and it can direct your own focus for your child’s education this year.

What Is Your Preferred Teaching Style?

Another way to learn more about your child’s teacher is to ask about the way they’d teach in an ideal world. Do they like to use a lot of technology? Are they a lecture-and-notes kind of teacher, or do they prefer a student-led classroom? It’s a good opportunity to talk about the styles your child responds to (although it’s likely that their teacher has already figured that out).

Advertisement

How Can I Support You and My Child at Home?

Your child’s teacher may tear up a bit if you ask this question. Not only does it ensure that you’re supporting what they do in the classroom, it marks you as an involved parent who wants the best for your child — not just to hear how great they are. 

Feel free to ask about ways to help with homework, questions to ask after school, and even discipline ideas (many teachers are also parents, so they get it).

What’s the Best Way To Communicate With You?

The communication doesn’t need to end just because the conference is over. Determine the best (and fastest) ways to reach out to a teacher in the future. 

Some teachers like using classroom and grading apps, while others prefer email. You may even find some old-school teachers who enjoy a phone call with a parent over electronic communication. Either way, it’s good to know the best way to communicate with them before the need arises, and to check in later in the year.

Parent-Teacher Conference Questions To Avoid

Any or all of the above questions are great ways to establish a parent-teacher connection. But try to avoid these questions if you can.

  • Do you like my child? The teacher is never going to say “no,” so you don’t need to ask.
  • Can I see your gradebook? Spending your conference on individual assignments and grades isn’t the best use of your or the teacher’s time.
  • Is my child the highest performer in the class? The teacher’s not going to answer this, and it doesn’t matter.
  • Can you make a specific accommodation? Depending on the accommodation, this request is better in an IEP or 504 meeting.
  • Are you old enough to be a teacher? If the teacher looks young, they probably are — but they were hired for their skills, so trust them.
  • Can you make your class more interesting? You’re trying to say that your child is bored in class, so say that instead and come up with a plan to keep them engaged.
  • Are you available to tutor my child? While some teachers do tutor after school (most do not), let them offer these services rather than you asking for them.
  • Can I text you with additional questions? There are many reasons why parents shouldn’t text teachers, one of which is that parent texts often interrupt teaching time or free time (and they expect an immediate answer). Stick to email, educational apps, and phone calls.
Advertisement

Start the School Year With the Right Questions

Parent-teacher conferences can be negative when parents and teachers aren’t on the same page. But with insightful questions and an open-minded approach, everyone can remember that they’re here to help a child find success — which is the first step to a great school year. 

Don’t be afraid to use these questions to check in with the teacher throughout the year as well.