Parent-teacher meetings are an essential aspect of knowing how your child is doing in school.
What is the purpose of parent-teacher meetings?
Parent-teacher meetings are a great way to ensure a line of communication between your child’s life at home and their life at school. They allow you to be better informed about your child’s academic progress and in-class behaviour and make it possible to create a plan that will help contribute to your child’s academic success and overall well-being at school.
These meetings also provide an opportunity for your child to understand that their schooling matters to you. By working with your child’s teacher, you can have a positive impact on their motivation and academic perseverance.
How many parent-teacher meetings can you expect?
The number of meetings scheduled throughout the year can vary from one school board to the next. Generally, all parents will be invited to a group meeting with all of the other parents at the beginning of the year. This gives teachers a chance to explain how things work in the classroom.
Throughout the school year, you can request to meet with your child’s teacher to discuss how they’re doing or talk about a particular issue.
Later in the year, parents will be invited to attend one or two individual meetings with their child’s teacher, often around the time when report cards are handed out at the end of each semester. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to learn about your child’s progress and get to know their teacher better. It’s also an opportunity for their teacher to learn more about your child.
If your child is struggling with a particular subject or having behavioural issues at school, this is also the time to discuss it with the teacher. In such cases, additional meetings might be scheduled as well.
It’s a good opportunity to discuss strategies on how to help your child and establish an individualized education plan if necessary. Other school professionals (e.g., psychoeducators or special education specialists) may also attend this meeting to share their observations along with those of the teacher.
Dealing with change
If your child is going through a major change (e.g., a separation, move, or illness), make sure to let their teacher know via the school’s preferred mode of communication (e.g., your child’s agenda, e-mail, the school’s web portal). It’s important to keep your child’s school informed of these events since they can affect your child’s academic performance.
Getting ready for the meeting
If you keep up with what’s happening in the classroom, you’ll be in a better position to discuss your child’s progress with their teacher. Pay attention to your child’s lessons and homework to learn about their interests, strengths, and weaknesses. This is also a great way to keep them motivated and engaged.
You can also talk to your child when they get home from school. For example, ask them about their day, how their friends are doing, and what they’ve learned.
Try to avoid asking close-ended questions like, “Did you have a good day?” Ask them open-ended questions instead. This will enrich your discussions and help you better understand how their days are going. Here are a few examples of open-ended questions you can ask:
Tell me about an activity you enjoyed in class today.
What are you most proud of today?
Tell me about a challenge you had. What did you do to overcome it?
Preparing for the meeting
- If you can, attend the school’s group meeting at the beginning of the year to fully understand what to expect from the school year, the program, and how the school works.
- As soon as you get it, look over your child’s report card and discuss it with them before you meet with their teacher.
- Make a note of any questions you’d like to ask your child’s teacher to make sure you don’t forget anything important. These questions could be about anything, from what they’re learning in school to how they’re behaving in class or getting along with heir classmates.
- Approach the meeting with positivity and reassure your child. Let them know that the meeting is about how to help them succeed and progress.
What to expect from the meeting
A one-on-one parent-teacher meeting usually lasts about 10 to 15 minutes. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of it:
Keep an open mind and listen carefully to what the teacher has to say about your child. If they ask you questions, answer them honestly. You all have the same goal: to help your child.
- Feel free to ask questions to make sure you understand everything.
If your child is having trouble with a subject or their behaviour is an issue, ask their teacher how they plan to help them and what services are available. If necessary, you can work with them to create an individualized education plan.
- Ask the teacher about their expectations post-meeting, both from you and from your child. This will help you understand what needs to be done, both at school and at home.
- Talk about the meeting with your child afterwards. Give them an overview of what you discussed. This will give you a chance to highlight their strengths and discuss some of the ways suggested to help them improve.
What is an individualized education plan?
Schools are required to keep parents up to date on their child’s progress if they are having problems. In such a case, the school might develop an individualized education plan (or action plan) for your child.
This plan will include an assessment of your child’s strengths, needs, and challenges. In order to address anything your child might be struggling with, the plan will also include goals, a plan for how to achieve them, a timeline, and an outline of the responsibilities of all parties involved (the teacher, school principal, psychoeducator, special education specialist, etc.).
Another meeting will then be scheduled to present the plan and explain your child’s responsibilities and the role that you will have to play to ensure it is carried out successfully.
Things to keep in mind
To foster your child’s academic progress, it’s important to participate in scheduled meetings with their teacher.
You can prepare for these meetings by taking an interest in what your child is doing in class and writing down the points you want to cover.
During these meetings, being open and honest will ensure the school is able to support your child as effectively as possible.
Scientific review: Solène Bourque, psychoeducator
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir Team
Updated: May 2022
Sources and references
Note: The links to other websites are not updated regularly, and some URLs may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, please use search engines to find the relevant information.
Béliveau, Marie-Claude. Au retour de l’école… La place des parents dans l’apprentissage scolaire. 3rd ed., Montreal, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2019, 272 pp.
Duclos, Germain. Guider mon enfant dans sa vie scolaire. Montreal, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2006, 280 pp.
Fédération des comités de parents du Québec. “Guide d’accompagnement à l’intention des parents d’un enfant ayant des besoins particuliers.” 2nd ed., 2020. fcpq.qc.ca
Ministère de l’Éducation. “Individualized Education Plans: Helping Students Achieve Success.” 2013. education.gouv.qc.ca