Helping Your Child to Succeed
How Parents & Families Can Communicate 
Better with Teachers and School Staff

Meeting with a teacher, principal or other school staff member makes many parents feel nervous. If you feel this way, you're not alone. Teachers and school staff often feel this way when speaking with parents or family members. That's because most of the times that parents and school staff talk to each other, it's about a problem or another subject that is unpleasant.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has developed these tips to make it easier for you to talk with a teacher or other school staff person - and also make your discussion more helpful.

Share your insights

Be prepared to let the teacher or other school staff know about your child's study habits, special interests and any health problems that may affect his or her learning.

You might also want to share any recent experiences (like a death in the family) that could be affecting your child's performance or behavior. This information will help school staff better understand your child.

Make a list of questions

Start thinking about questions before a meeting or conference at school. One way to get ideas is by talking to your son or daughter.

Make a list of questions and bring it to the school with you. The teacher will welcome this a as sign that you take your child's schooling very seriously. Some basic questions to ask a teacher or school staff are:

  • How is my child doing in your class?
  • Is he/she having any problems?
  • What are the problems and how can I/our family help at home?
Consider your children's grade level in asking questions

Some questions may be more appropriate for certain grade levels. For example, if your child is in elementary school, you might ask:

  • How well is my child doing in reading and math?
  • How well does my child work independently? Or with others?
  • How does my child seem to feel about school or his or her own abilities?

Other questions may be more appropriate if your child is older (grades 6-12):

  • Does this school offer career counseling or classes to help my son/daughter decide on a career?
  • How often do you assign homework? Is my child completing homework as expected?
  • Where can we get help in completing college applications?

Listen carefully tot he reports and statements from the child's teacher, counselor or school staff. This information will give you additional ideas for question to ask.

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