Getting the most out of parent-teacher interviews

Parent-teacher interviews are an integral part of a child’s education. Parents can be valuable assets in improving their child’s learning experience. It is important for teachers to ensure these meetings go well so that parents know how to best support their children.

Keep reading for some guidelines on how to get the most out of parent-teacher interviews.

Prepare beforehand

Just as students must put in the work before giving a presentation, teachers must have the necessary materials prepared before the parent-teacher conference takes place. This can include grades, rubrics, assignments, and anything else the teacher thinks might be relevant. Even if not all of these materials end up being used, it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Make a good impression

This may seem obvious, but it is important to keep a good rapport with parents in order for them to be most cooperative. This does not mean being inauthentic in order to appease parents, but it does mean maintaining a professional and welcoming manner is essential. Making a good impression can lessen parents’ anxieties about their child and increase their faith in an instructor’s teaching ability.

Of course, treat parents with respect and patience, even if that is not reciprocated at first. Although it can be frustrating, immediately responding with anger is counterproductive. The child is the main focus of the meeting, not the teacher or the parent, so keep calm when faced with initially difficult parents. They just might warm up to you as the meeting goes on.   

Being prepared is also a big part of this. It looks unprofessional and unorganized when a teacher is constantly looking for materials or does not know where things are during a meeting. Teachers should ensure they have all necessary materials prepared before the meeting so they can easily be referred to when necessary. 

Keep parents on the same page

Ensure that parents fully understand classroom expectations and learning objectives before getting into their child’s performance. Take the time to explain any terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to them so that they do not get lost during the meeting. 

This is a good time to refer to rubrics and assignment outlines so parents can have concrete examples of what their child is working on. It also makes it easier for them to follow along and ask questions if need be.

Be honest

There is no need to sugarcoat anything. When explaining a child’s performance, it benefits parents and their child more if teachers clearly and directly state a child’s strengths and shortcomings. Of course, this can be done without being rude to the child, so ensure that honesty does not slip into accidental insults.

When discussing a child’s areas of improvement, it may help to present this information following something positive about the child. For example, a teacher might lead by saying, “your child shows an analytical ability above their peers.” They could follow that up: “however, they tend to be unfocused during class.” Then, continue by reiterating the child’s strengths and how they might be used to counteract the critique. This can make the areas of improvement seem less daunting and prevent any criticism from sounding like an insult on the child.

However, if using this method, sometimes called a praise/compliment sandwich, ensure that the criticism at the centre of the “sandwich” is not lost between the compliments. When presented with a critique like this, it can be easy for the listener to think that the problem is not as bad as it really is due to the compliments softening the impact. It is essential to find a balance between sharing genuine concerns about students’ performances and being kind and respectful.

Create a plan

Do not just leave the parents and child with a set of issues. Have a realistic plan ready to go on how the child’s problem areas might be worked on. Outline specific steps that can be taken both in the classroom and at home to get parents more involved in their child’s education.

Be ready to listen to parents with questions or concerns about this plan and work with them to accommodate the plan to address the child’s needs. 


The child’s education does not suddenly stop when the meeting does. Their performance as a student may change over time, so it is best for parents to know how best to reach the teacher in the future. Provide ways for parents to stay in touch with you and encourage them to ask questions and provide updates.

Inevitably, some parent-teacher interviews will not go as planned. No amount of preparation can prepare a teacher for every possible scenario. However, at the end of the day, these meetings are for the child’s benefit. Ensure they are performed to the best of your ability to maintain connections with parents and drive students’ academic growth.

About the author

Kyle Quilatan

Kyle is a writer for Youth Mind who studied English at Wilfrid Laurier University. When he’s not writing, he enjoys art and music.

Kyle Quilatan

Kyle is a writer for Youth Mind who studied English at Wilfrid Laurier University. When he’s not writing, he enjoys art and music.

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