What Teachers Want You to Ask About Your Child

By Hilary Scharton

Want your child to get ahead? Build a great relationship with your child’s teacher to create a strong partnership throughout the school year. Not sure how to do it? We talked to Hilary Scharton who gave some insight on what really works and shared what teachers really want you to ask about your child during parent-teacher meetings.

What are a few questions teachers wish parents would ask during back-to-school nights?

  • What are your expectations of parental support in education?
  • What is your homework philosophy? Studies show I should be engaged in the process of learning at home (not merely monitoring if my child is doing homework), how can I best be involved with your homework style? What’s the best way for me to understand my child’s performance on an ongoing basis?
  • What are the best ways for me to help in the classroom (some parents might not have volunteer time, but can donate supplies)?
  • How do you prefer I communicate with you?

Any do’s and don’ts parents should know ahead of their parent-teacher conferences?

  • DO ask questions.
  • DON’T feel overwhelmed if you have limited time.
  • DO explain your child’s learning style and any educational gifts and challenges.
  • DON’T forget to listen to the teacher—even if what they’re saying isn’t what you want to hear.
  • DO get involved.

What should parents be doing to establish a good channel of communication with their child’s teacher?

Open lines of communication between parents and teachers are essential to student success. Parents should understand a teacher’s preferred method of communication—email, texting, an app, backpack notes—and use it often. And respect boundaries of communication. If your child’s teacher mostly texts, do not text them at midnight and expect a response right away.

What is the biggest challenge teachers wish parents understood takes place in the classroom?

Teaching is often a ratio of one teacher to 30-plus students. Your involvement is essential to giving your children a better education because having parents involved has a positive impact on the educator-to-student ratio.

You can’t underestimate the effect what happens at home has on a child’s ability to learn. Establishing morning and evening routines, getting enough sleep, feeding your child a non-sugary breakfast, and making sure your child isn’t stressed when they arrive at school are invaluable.

How can parents best use what they learn during parent-teacher conferences to help their child?

Follow through on what you learn at a parent-teacher conference. Parents receive a lot of handouts and information and file it away. Aim to immediately apply what you learn at parent-teacher conferences to understand how your child is performing now and support future learning.

Want more on this topic?

5 Tips for Working Moms (And Dads!) to Survive Back to School

Hilary Scharton is the Vice President of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure, the open online learning management system (LMS) that makes teaching and learning easier. She formerly served as a psychologist for Utah school districts. 

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