PW Elementary Counselor Newsletter
Tips for Getting More Out of Your Parent-Teacher Conferences This November
With a little planning, these meetings can tell you lots about your child’s learning progress and wellbeing.
Parent-teacher conferences can feel nerve-wracking, but there's no need to worry! Think of this meeting as an opportunity to meet with your child's teacher one-on-one and to get a comprehensive look at what your child's school life is like.
“Your child's teacher is solely dedicated to you during your conference time,” says Jaclyn Pearson, a 1st grade teacher in Illinois.
While the discussion will likely touch on grades and good study habits, you also want to ask about the parts of your child’s school life that can't be measured by test scores and homework, such as character and friendships.
“If you have questions, ask them!” Pearson says. Your child’s teachers are just as interested in your input as you are in theirs.
Teachers want to be informed of any changes your child is facing in their personal or family life. You’ll get a sense of how they behave at home in comparison to how they act at school. By working together, you and your child's teacher can better understand their needs.
“Don't be hesitant to receive clarification or discuss an issue that could be better understood with face-to-face interaction,” Pearson advises.
With so much to talk about in so little time, here are seven tips to make the most of your parent-teacher conferences this year:
Before the Parent-Teacher Conference
1. Prep Early
Don't wait until the night before to get organized. Create a folder at the beginning of the year in which you keep test scores, big assignments, and any notes. Don’t worry if you haven't been doing that so far — just pull together any materials you have, and jot down questions.
2. Talk to Your Child on a Daily Basis
Ask how they're doing in class, and about what's going on during lunchtime, recess, and when they go to special classes like music or gym. If you don't like what you're hearing, investigate. Talk to other parents to see if their children are expressing similar concerns.
Pearson suggests bringing any concerns to the teacher’s attention as soon as possible.
“If you wait for too long, the teacher may not know exactly what situation you are referring to,” she says.
3. Find Out the Communication Protocol
Don't let conferences be the only time you talk to your child's teacher. Ask them how they prefer to communicate, whether it's by email, a schoolwide app, or phone calls.
“The sooner you know how your child's teacher will communicate, the more likely you'll be able to stay on top of what is happening in the classroom,” Pearson says.
During the Parent-Teacher Conference
4. Arrive Early (Whether Your Conference Is In-Person or Online)
With only a few precious minutes to spend, you don't want to be late and shorten time with your child's teacher.
5. Go in With a Positive Attitude
The goal of both the teacher and you should be the success of your child. Arrive with a compliment to start the conference off on the right foot, such as "My son is really enjoying the unit on space" or "We had a great time on the field trip.") Then address any concerns respectfully.
After the Parent-Teacher Conference
6. Follow Up
If the teacher brings something to your attention that needs to be addressed with your child, take steps to put the plan in motion, whether it's working on organizational skills, helping them with homework, or talking about a social-emotional issue.
7. Update Your Child on How Things Went
Start with the positive things their teacher had to say, then fill them in on any concerns you and the teacher discussed. Explain how you can all work together to ensure your child stays motivated for a successful school year.
Going beyond "How was your day?"
A common complaint we get often from parents is that their children never tell them about their day. They always ask "how was your day" and their children respond "fine". Do you really want to get your children to open up to you and tell you about their school day? Try asking a few of these questions after school to get a conversation started.
1. What was the best thing that happened at school today?
2. What was the worst thing that happened at school today?
3. What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
4. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
5. Tell me about what you read in class today. What did your teacher read to you today?
6. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? Who would you not want to sit by in class? Why?
7. What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
8. Who did you sit by at lunch today? What did you talk about?
9. Can you show me something you learned today?
10. What part of school is your favorite?
11. Tell me the name of 3 kids you sat next to today.
12. What was the most interesting/funny thing your teacher said today?
13. What class rules does your teacher say are important?
14. Tell me one interesting fact about your teacher.
15. What’s your favorite time of day at school?
16. What are you looking forward to at school tomorrow?
17. Did you get frustrated with anything at school today?
18. Were you able to finish all of your work today?
19. Tell me about a new word you heard today at school.
20. If I called your teacher tonight what would she/he tell me about you?
21. What made you happy today?
22. Did anything make you sad today?
23. How did you help somebody today?
24. How did someone help you today?
25. Were you bored at all today?
26. Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
27. What word did your teacher say the most today?
28. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
29. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
30. How were you a good friend today?
31. Where do you play the most at recess?
32. Did anyone do something nice for you today?
33. Did you do anything nice for anyone today?
34. Was it noisy or quiet today during class? Which do you like better?
35. Ask about a specific friend in your child’s class.
36. What questions did you ask today?
37. Tell me what you learned today that you did not know before.
38. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your day? How could you make it a 10?
39. If you got one wish about school, what would it be?
40. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she funny?
41. What was your favorite part of lunch?
42. What challenged you most today?
43. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?
44. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with? Why?
45. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.
46. What do you like most about school?
47. What do you like least about school?
Adapted from The Reading Bungalow
- We have included window signs that might be helpful to avoid any confusion.
- We are including Halloween Scavenger Hunt for families who may choose to play instead or trick-or-treating.
- Check out these yummy treats for easy Halloween baking.
Halloween Safety Tips from KidsHealth
Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
From the candy to the costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time for kids and parents. Here's how to make it a safe, trick-free treat.
(Note: Follow your area’s COVID-19 guidelines and keep kids home if they’re sick with COVID-19 or any other illness.)
Dressing Your Little Ghouls & Goblins
- Choose a light-colored costume that's easy to see at night. Add reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape to the costume and to the trick-or-treat bag.
- Only buy costumes labeled "flame-retardant." This means the material won't burn. If you make your own costume, use nylon or polyester materials, which are flame-retardant.
- Make sure wigs and beards don't cover your kids' eyes, noses, or mouths.
- Masks can make it hard for kids to see and breathe. Instead, try using non-toxic face paint or makeup.
- Don't use colored or decorative contact lenses, unless they're prescribed by a licensed eye doctor.
- Put a nametag — with your phone number — on your children's costumes.
- To prevent falls, avoid oversized and high-heeled shoes. Make sure the rest of the costume fits well too.
- Make sure that any props your kids carry, such as wands or swords, are short and flexible.
Kids under age 12 should:
- always go trick-or-treating with an adult
- know how to call 911 in case they get lost
- know their home phone number or your cellphone number if you don't have a landline
Older kids who go out on their own should:
- know their planned route and when they'll be coming home
- carry a cellphone
- go in a group and stay together
- only go to houses with porch lights on
- stay away from candles and other flames
- know to never go into strangers' homes or cars
For all kids:
- According to Safe Kids Worldwide, the risk of kids being hit by a car is higher on Halloween than on any other day of the year. So make sure all kids:
- walk on sidewalks on lit streets (never through alleys or across lawns)
- walk from house to house (never run) and always walk facing traffic when walking on roads
- cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop
- Give kids flashlights with fresh batteries. Kids may also enjoy wearing glow sticks as bracelets or necklaces.
- Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood and the homes of people you know.
When kids get home:
- Help them check all treats to make sure they're sealed. Throw out candy with torn packages or holes in the packages, spoiled items, and any homemade treats that weren't made by someone you know.
- Don't let young children have hard candy or gum that could cause choking.
- Have kids wash their hands before eating and don’t forget to make sure they brush their teeth.
Keep Visiting Ghouls Safe Too!
Make sure trick-or-treaters are safe when visiting your home too. Remove anything that could cause them to trip or fall on your walkway or lawn. Make sure the lights are on outside your house and light the walkway to your door, if possible. Keep family pets away from trick-or-treaters, even if they seem harmless to you.
Halloween Goodies — What You Give Out and What Kids Get
- Make Halloween fun for all — including kids with food allergies. Consider buying Halloween treats other than candy. Stickers, erasers, crayons, pencils, coloring books, and sealed packages of raisins and dried fruits are good choices.
- As you check what your kids brought home, keep track of how much candy they got and store it somewhere other than their bedrooms. Consider being somewhat lenient about candy eating on Halloween, within reason, and talk about how the rest of the candy will be handled. Let kids have one or two treats a day instead of leaving candy out in big bags or bowls for kids to eat whenever they want.
Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date reviewed: October 2022
How to talk to young children about politics and the upcoming election
Talking to Kids About Politics
Talking about politics can be tricky and may lead to difficult social interactions and strong emotions. Yet no matter our personal political views, most of us want to raise the next generation to be responsible and engaged citizens. To help children become good citizens, we have to start by engaging them in conversation about local and national policies and current events.