How to Survive Parent-Teacher Interviews


It’s parent-teacher interview time again. When it comes to meeting your child’s teacher for the first time (and for only 15 minutes), most parents don’t know what to expect, what to ask and why. Armed with advice from top educators across Canada, here are tips for making the most of the parent-teacher interview:

• Most important tip of all: Read your child’s report card before you attend the interview and jot down any questions you have.

• Ask for clarification of the report card’s comments. Many are written in teacher-speak using qualifying terms like “some,” “frequently,” and “most of the time.” Ask what terms like “some difficulty” really mean.

• When you receive the report cards, there should be no real surprises about how your child is doing but if there are, there is a problem with communication from the teacher. If your child is not performing well in reading, math or anything else, it is a reasonable to assume that you should have known about it before the report card comes.

• You should leave the parent-teacher meeting knowing three strengths about your child and three areas of improvement (i.e. the need to move from 2-digit addition to 3-digit addition, be more focused in class, etc.).

• If your child is doing really well, have a conversation with the teacher about her learning skills. Ask how she’s doing with things like co-operation, conflict resolution and goal-setting.

• If your child is struggling, ask the teacher how you should go about helping him with his work at home. Devise a plan with the teacher to work on the problem and stay in communication.

• Many teachers communicate via email and a program called Teacher Web so you can have instant access to them. Though be advised that they are not obligated to communicate with you by email and you may need to send notes the old-fashioned way.

• Schools can provide translations to different languages. Do ask for one if you need one—how your child is doing in school is a very important conversation!

• Lastly, don’t be intimidated by this teacher meeting—this is the perfect opportunity to connect with the person who spends almost as much time with your child as you do.

Read about the fantastic teachers from this year’s Canadian Family Great Teacher Awards!

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