Rock the Parent/Teacher Conference: 8 Tips for a Great Conversation

Dad and son talking to a teacher

Parent/teacher conferences only come once or twice a year, so make the most of your time with your child’s teacher! At KinderCare, we love getting to know our families because we know what a difference it makes to the children in our classrooms. Research shows that when families communicate regularly with teachers and are plugged in to their school communities, their children are better prepared to enter kindergarten—and children's social skills and school achievement improve, too.

Conferences give everyone a chance to share stories and sync efforts at home and school to set up your child for real success. “What a teacher sees in the classroom might be different from what a parent sees at home, and that’s okay,” says Amy Nash-Kille, KinderCare’s Senior Manager of Research and Evaluation.  

We want children to succeed, no matter where they are. Whatever you're working on at home, your teacher can support your efforts. Want to help your kiddo master their letters? Let's brainstorm ways to do it! Wondering about how to wean them from that bedraggled pacifier? We can help!  

Here’s how to have a positive conversation with your child’s teacher:

Before the Parent/Teacher Conference: How to Have a Positive Conversation

1. Make a list of questions to ask your child’s teacher

“We’re here to be supportive and understand your kids well,” notes Nash-Kille. “As early childhood educators who see children in a classroom setting, teachers do have insights to share, but for us, families’ perspectives and concerns come first.” Take a moment to jot them down. No question is too small!

2. Talk with your child about their school experience

How are they feeling? What are their favorite things to do? What activities are challenging for them? If your child says they’re having a hard time with reading, it can be really enlightening to hear their teacher's opinion. They might be reading really well—but simply have a hard time sitting still long enough to finish a book. If your kiddo loves music, talk to their teacher about more ways to use music and song in their learning process.

Photo by David Hume Kennerly
Photo by David Hume Kennerly

What to Expect at the Parent/Teacher Conference

3. Share stories about your child and your family

In addition to answering your questions, teachers love to gather as much information as they can about your child. Sharing stories about your child helps teachers build connections in the classroom. Does your little bean love their stuffed elephant? Are they fascinated by their big brother's aquarium? What do you love to do together? Talk about their likes and dislikes, talents, and habits. What are your dreams for your child? Share any concerns, too.

4. Have a conversation about your child’s budding passions and strengths

When our teachers sit down with you, it’s natural to think back to your own time in school. Sure, you might've skipped gym or struggled in math, but who knows, your child may be a budding track star or a brilliant mathematician. Learning what your child is passionate about at school will help you nurture those passions at home, too. Our collective goal is to help our kids be the best people they can be!

It may bring you peace of mind to know that our teachers continually assess the learning milestones of every child in their classrooms. This may be of special interest as your child gets closer to kindergarten. Teachers may focus on your child’s portfolio of work to frame the conversation around their development.

5. Have concerns or questions? Bring them up (no matter how small)

Are you wondering why circle time is so important in our classrooms? Are you worried your preschooler isn’t making friends? Looking for ways that you can support your child’s learning at home? Ask away! Chances are, your child's teacher will have some great suggestions—after all, they’ve spent a lot of time with little kids and have a lot of experience with how they learn and grow.

You know your child better than anyone, but early childhood educators can bring additional insights to the table. That’s what the family/teacher partnership is all about!  

Photo by David Hume Kennerly
Photo by David Hume Kennerly

More Parent/Teacher Conference Tips

6. Sign up and attend

It sounds obvious, but busy work schedules can interfere with person-to-person meetings. At KinderCare, we make every effort to work with busy schedules. Let us know if you’re having difficulty scheduling your meeting during business hours. If you can’t visit in person, you can absolutely schedule a phone call.

7. Arrive on time

Teachers often have a tight schedule on conference days. Get the most out of your time together by starting promptly!

8. Talk to us

Conference time isn’t the only time you can talk with your teacher. Whether your child has hit new milestones or developed a new special interest, the more the teacher knows, the more they will be able to help. You are always welcome to catch up with us during pick-up or drop-off, but if that's too rushed, call and schedule a time to speak on the phone. We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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