Parent-teacher conferences can be incredibly gratifying, extremely disheartening or both. Meeting with your child's teacher can be an awesome opportunity to problem-solve on the child's behalf, but those 15 minutes of face-time can also make your heart race. As you prepare for your next conference, keep the following tips in mind to ensure you make the most of the meeting.


1. Do Your Homework

Familiarize yourself with your child's recent test scores, consider her homework habits, and remind yourself about any concerns she's expressed. Ask your child if there is anything specific she'd like you to discuss with her teacher. Make a list of your questions, concerns, and practical suggestions for how to boost your child's progress. Don't rely on your memory; write your list down and plan to bring it with you.

2. Coach Yourself

Before you step into the classroom, remind yourself why you're there. You love your child, you want her to succeed, and no one knows your child better than you do. Come prepared to hear a mix of compliments and constructive criticism. Promise yourself you'll maintain a positive attitude and remain calm and respectful throughout the meeting.

3. Keep an Open Mind

You might know your child like the back of your hand, but you also lack objectivity. Listen carefully to the teacher. If this is the first time you're getting negative feedback about your child, don't get defensive and don't be quick to make excuses. Admit to yourself that your child might have some weaknesses that you've never noticed or have ignored. If you disagree with the teacher's assessment, gently explain why.

4. Check Your Ego at the Door

Parent-teacher conferences are less about you and more about your child's progress. If you learn that your child is struggling in some way, remind yourself that your own feelings of guilt or incompetence will not help your child succeed. Make it clear to the teacher that you are willing to do what is necessary to help your child.

5. Follow Up

During your meeting, take good mental or written notes of everything you discuss. Your child will likely want a complete run-down. Share with her what you discussed with the teacher, and welcome her comments. Be real, but stay upbeat. Emphasize how the goal of these conferences is to help her grow and to make her school experience as positive and productive as possible. Pledge to stay in touch with your child's teacher to track future progress.