Get the Most Out of Your Family Teacher Conference: What to Ask at Every Age

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The school year is underway and it’s natural to have questions about what’s going on, day to day, with your tiny, awesome human. That’s one reason why family teacher conferences are so valuable!

If you think conferences are just a formality or that your child is too young for them to be meaningful, think again!  

“No matter how old your child is, it’s important to communicate regularly with teachers and stay plugged into your school community,” says Ariel Acosta, Inclusion Services Advisor for KinderCare. “We do ours twice a year, because research shows that when families and teachers stay connected, children are better prepared to enter kindergarten and their social skills and achievement improve too. We are always thinking about how to set kids up for the most success, and we’re proud that the longer kids stay in our program, the better they do.”

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So, let’s get started! First things first: make a list. We know you’re juggling a lot, so we’re here to help. Here are some age-specific questions to ask at your family teacher conference to give you a snapshot of your child's developmental, emotional, social, and academic progress. (Yes, even if you have an infant who seems to just sleep, eat, poop, and cry!)

• Infant (6-weeks- 1-year-olds) 
1. How is my child transitioning to the teachers and classroom environment after drop-off? 
2. What patterns are you seeing in my child’s sleeping and feeding schedule? 
3. What are you noticing my child doing lately, and what milestones do you think my child will meet next?

• Toddler (1- 2-year-olds)
1. What milestones are you working on with my child? 
2. What are you noticing about my child’s speech and language development?
3. What is your approach to managing challenging behaviors, and what can I do at home to provide consistency? 

• Discovery Preschool (2- 3-year-olds)
1. What are my child’s budding passions and strengths?
2. How would you describe my child’s personality in the classroom? 
3. Who has my child formed strong relationships with among staff and as peers?

• Preschool (3- 4-year-olds)
1. What are my child’s relationships with other children like (playing with others, making friends)? 
2. Tell me what you’ve noticed about how my child approaches learning. 
3. How flexible is my child when it comes to new concepts, people, foods, environments, or changes in plans?

• Prekindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten (4- 6-year-olds) 
1. How is my child doing academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally?
2. What are the year-end goals for my child to be best prepared for Kindergarten? 
3. What would be useful for my child’s incoming Kindergarten teacher to know about his/her learning style? 

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If you have time to ask more, these are great questions teachers appreciate being asked at any age:

• All ages
1. Tell me about a typical day!
2. How can I support classroom learning at home?
3. What is your approach to guidance and discipline? 

Family teacher conferences are certainly the right place to learn about how your child is doing at school, and they also provide the perfect opportunity to share more about the rest of your family! 

“Our teachers see parents and families as partners,“ says Rashelle Chase, Content Architect, Education Innovation Team at KinderCare Education. “It’s important to us that we get to know our families and what’s important to them. When we understand a child’s family structure, and what cultural elements inform a family’s values and parenting style, we understand each child better and can make sure that we are honoring what is important to each family. For teachers and families, that means everything.”

When you walk out of your conference, pay attention to how you feel and what you learned. If you still have questions, schedule time to talk with the teacher again, or your Center Director, who is always there to give you more support.

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