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Middle and high school parent-teacher conferences

Your meeting with a teacher can forge a partnership that helps your child make the transition from middle school and high school to adulthood.

College concerns? Worried about grades? Routine chat? Parents and teachers meet for a variety of reasons throughout the school year. Whatever your reason for visiting, it's important to remember that you and your child's teachers are partners in helping your child in the transition to adulthood. The combined support of teachers, counselor and you will be essential to help your child get on the right track to achieve his goals.

Your Involvement in School

Being involved in your child's life at school is important. Obviously, you can't accompany her every step of the way, but it's important for her to know you're interested in what she's doing, and that her hard work is appreciated. Also, if you stay informed about your child's classes and activities, you'll be better able to give her help or guidance when she needs it.

Meet with your child's teachers for a brief chat at the beginning of the school year. A good relationship with her teachers will make it easier for you to work together if problems arise during the year. Your child's teacher can also help you understand what your child experiences every day and inform you about her schoolwork and responsibilities.

Talk to Your Child Beforehand

Ask your child if he has any questions or concerns he'd like you to discuss with his teacher and find out what he likes and dislikes about the class. Let your child know what you plan to talk about with the teacher - when your child is involved in decisions about his education he is more likely to take responsibility for his work and performance.


Jot down any questions you may have before your meeting to make the most of your time with her teacher. Some questions you may want to ask:

  • How has my child performed in your class so far this year?
  • What skills and knowledge will my child be learning in your class?
  • Will my child complete any major projects or term papers this year?
  • How do you determine grades on assignments? How do you determine her overall grade for the class?
  • If my child needs help, is tutoring available?
  • If my child is a fast-learner how can you and the school make sure she is challenged?
  • Is this a college-track class? How does this class help students build skills to succeed in college?
  • What resources are available at school to help my child with your class?
  • How can I help my child succeed in your class this year?
  • What resources would help my child do her work better? Are there additional books or resources available at school or in the community that would help her?

Special Circumstances

Aside from any questions you have, it's also important to let your child's teacher know about your concerns or any special circumstances that might affect his work in school. Update his teachers or high school counselor if any major changes occur in your family. Some families are reluctant to reveal private matters, but you might consider simply alerting his counselor or teachers that your family is going though difficult times.

Keep an Open Mind

You may find the teacher has constructive criticism about your child. Keep an open mind to the teacher's comments. Neither your child nor her teacher is perfect, so if a problem arises it's important to consider both sides of the story. The best solution is one that helps your child succeed in school.


Take notes during your meeting to record important points that were made. Let your child know what you discussed and if you and his teacher made any decisions or came to any conclusions. Set up another meeting with the teacher, if necessary, to monitor your child's progress or to discuss any continuing problems or concerns.

Comments from readers

"This is very good advice. I am however disappointed with most of the teachers lack of wanting communication with parents and with the guidance counselor not caring to share advice when a parent is seeking guidance for her child. One is left with the desire to homeschool, which I did for 2 years, while working full time. My child is back in school because I could no longer teach the advanced levels as I am not a high school graduate myself. I am disappointed in the school system in Florida. "
"My son is now in the 8th grade--Jr. High .He will be moving to High School next year. I am very worried because when he got to Jr High level the teachers basically cut off contact with the parents. They no longer feel the need to sign off planners, etc. Since being at Jr High my son's progress reports do not even require my signature or a return to the school showing that the parents have seen it. If I send a note to the teachers, I do not get a reply. Last month I sent a note to all 6 of my son's teachers, the principal and the vice-principal, asking them how I could assist them in getting my son to improve his level of effort and grades this year. I got no reply from any of them. I sent an email to the superintendent 2 days ago and am waiting for his reply. My son is ADHD and although he hasn;t required any accomadations since 5th grade, he still requires monitoring and/or encouraging from myself. It has been extremely hard the last 3 years in Jr. High and I am terrified o! f what it will be like in High School. I live in a small town in Alabama and we have great schools test wise. We have scores either 1st, 2nd or 3rd nationwide ever since I can remember. And in the Primary and Elem. schools the teachers are very positive and encourage parental involvement but this is not the case in Jr High. Help!"
"Hi your newsletter is awesome and I have a question for you I need help very badly. My child is attending middle school first year but it's seem that she is having difficulty with teachers she is a gifted taltent and very bright but the teachers some of them are acting with no respect to them and I need to know what to do I already spoke with the Asst. Principal twice and it's seems like the issue has not change at all they ussing some verbal communication very insulting to the kids for example shup up or I'll shut it for you and so on what can I do to resolve this matter."
"thank you for the advise, it was very helpful in addressing of prepping of a conference. I want to know if i can come in anytime day i want and go and sit to see what a teacher is doing during a class. I have been told that the teacher is putting students down, he has contradicted himself in one conversation and I believe that he is belittling the children during class, which is unacceptable. How would you deal or what would you do for that? a response would be very appreciated."
"This is a good article for 'normal' students, unfortunately for me alot of these points are not help as I have a slightly learning disabled child. I don't see pointers on how to help 'mainstreamed' children cope with being slightly behind or slower then the others. I call meetings with my sons teachers every six weeks and have to do PPT's with the special sducation staff. Do you have pointers in dealing with the ever changing special ed system where you can't have the same administrator for more then one year? It's not just about the teachers and parents."