Family life

The parent-teacher interview

How to make the most of your 10 minutes with your child's teacher

By Jacqueline Kovacs
The parent-teacher interview


Want some insight into your child from the adult who spends most weekdays with him? Well, you’ve got 10 minutes.

That’s the mixed blessing of parent-teacher interviews: They’re a fabulous opportunity to learn about your child’s life at school, how he’s faring, where he needs to improve, how you can help — but that’s a lot of turf to cover in the few minutes parents are typically allotted. You need to come prepared. Here are some tips on how to do just that.


Make a list of questions The Oxford Learning Centre suggests your questions be specific and organized in order of importance. For example:

• Do you have any concerns about my child’s skill level?
• Does my child have difficulty listening to or following instructions?
• Does my child find it challenging to stay on task?
• Does my child have difficulty organizing his notes, class work, stories and so on?
• Does my child have friends and get along with his classmates?

Talk to your child Figure out your focus by finding out what your child most enjoys — and dislikes — about going to school.

Consider your concerns Does your child seem to have a lot of homework? Does she avoid reading or get frustrated with science?

Be prepared to share Is your family dealing with a stressful situation, such as a divorce, a serious illness or a death? That stress may be having an impact on your child’s learning and behaviour at school — something her teacher should know about.


State your purpose At the beginning of the interview, let the teacher know what it is you really want to find out, for example, “I would like to discuss how my son is progressing in reading.”

Stay on track — politely Losing the focus on your child? Be prepared to steer things back on course with a gentle statement like “I’d like to hear about that another time, but right now, I’d like to discuss my child’s work.”

Stay calm As the British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) advises parents: “Remember, both of you are working toward the same goals.”


Keep it friendly End on a positive note, says the BCCPAC. Plan to keep in touch and follow up.

Talk to your child Let him know what you discussed and what plans you and the teacher made to support and enhance his learning.

Follow through Stay involved with your child’s learning and use your child’s agenda to keep in touch with his teacher.

This article was originally published on Sep 07, 2009

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