7 Parent-Teacher Conference Tips From Teachers

Welcome to our guide to Back-to-School Success: 31 days of tips, apps, recipes, and more to help you make this your family's best school year yet. Today, day 18, is about preparing for your parent-teacher conference.

How can parents get the most out of parent-teacher conferences? We put the question to our teacher moms, and they shared these seven great suggestions.

1. Do Your Homework

"Parents can maximize their parent-teacher conferences by becoming familiar with the curriculum before the conference. That makes understanding the assessment data and progress much easier." — Kimberly of Funky First Grade

2. Be Focused

"Have in mind 2-3 target areas or concerns that you would like to discuss. Teachers are usually seeing parents back to back, they have their own list to discuss with you but there isn't much time for general chatting." — Bernadette Grbic of Mom to 2 Posh Little Divas

"While most schools suggest that parents bring a list of questions, I recommend choosing one or two topics/questions you want to discuss. Long lists of questions can consume the entire conference time and are often answered by the teacher as he/she shares your child's progress." — Kimberly of Funky First Grade

3. Leave Siblings at Home

"When you come to the conference, see if you can leave younger siblings at home or bring something to occupy them. I've had parents who could barely look at their child's scores because they were busy trying to feed the baby, keep the baby occupied or keep the baby from choking on something in the classroom. Most elementary school classrooms are not going to be baby proof, so letting the toddlers run around is not a good idea. I always provide blocks or baby dolls to play with, but often the little ones are more interested in running around and finding everything in the room that they really shouldn't get into, so sometimes the best thing is for adventurous little ones to stay home." — Jennifer Knopf of Herding Kats in Kindergarten

4. Keep an Open Mind

"Try to be open minded versus defensive. It's difficult to hear about problems or concerns, but remember that the teacher wants what is best for your child. They are trying to help." — Bernadette Grbic of Mom to 2 Posh Little Divas

"If there are discipline problems to be discussed, please keep an open mind. I've heard parents excuse their child for almost every behavior imaginable. Also, keep in mind that what might be okay at home is not okay in a classroom with 20+ other students. Ask the teacher about having a behavior plan where your child can earn rewards at home or school for good behavior." — Jennifer Knopf of Herding Kats in Kindergarten

5. Ask How You Can Help at Home

"Ask the teacher for specific suggestions about how you can help your child at home. Whether your child is struggling or needs to be challenged, your teacher should be able to provide specific instructions to help you focus on the most important academic skills to reinforce." — Kimberly of Funky First Grade

6. Celebrate Your Child's Growth

"Celebrate your child's growth. Make sure your child knows how proud you are! The kids are usually so nervous for these conferences!" — Tickled Pink

"After the conference make sure you congratulate your child on what they are doing well and follow through with any plans for extra help or behavior improvement." — Jennifer Knopf of Herding Kats in Kindergarten

"Let your child know how proud you are of their hard work and that you are there to help with any difficulties." — Bernadette Grbic of Mom to 2 Posh Little Divas

7. If You Can't Make It, Schedule a Phone Conference

"Unfortunately, only about half of the parents of my students come to parent-teacher conferences. If you can't make the scheduled conference times, call the teacher and ask for a different date/time. Most teachers would be willing to meet before or after school or even have a phone conference." — Jennifer Knopf of Herding Kats in Kindergarten

"Make TIME for the conference — even a phone conference is better than pushing it aside. Being informed is one of the best ways to help your child achieve." — Bernadette Grbic of Mom to 2 Posh Little Diva