The University of Iowa

Tell Me About My Child’s Literacy Development: Parent Tips for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference


Posted on: February 19, 2016

Parent-teacher conferences offer the chance for parents to learn how their children are progressing in literacy (reading and writing). Sometimes parents may have anxious feelings leading up to the meeting. Preparing for the meeting can help minimize any worries parents may have. Below are some tips for parents to use before, during, and after a parent-teacher conference in order to be best prepared and to maximize the meeting time.  

Before the Conference

  • Talk to your child—Ask your child how he feels about reading and writing. Does he feel successful? What does he think are his strengths or challenges?
  • Be prepared with questions—it is helpful to go to the conference with a list of questions to make sure you leave with answers. Some examples are as follows:

Potential Questions

  • Is my child meeting grade-level expectations in reading and writing?
  • Does my child have good work habits (i.e., time on task, organization, getting work completed, etc.)?
  • What are my child’s strengths in literacy?
  • What are challenges my child has in literacy?
  • Can you provide a list of what my child should learn this school year in reading and writing?
  • How do you track my child’s progress in reading and writing?
  • What can I do at home to support my child’s literacy learning?
  • Should we have any reading or writing routines at home to support my child’s literacy development?

During the Conference

  • Honor time (the teacher’s and your own)—As teachers have to meet with many families, their time is limited. Oftentimes they schedule parent conferences back to back, so it is important that families arrive on time and be ready to leave at the end of the designated conference time.
  • Be ready to listen—The teacher should have a lot of information to share about your child’s progress. While listening, you might find that your child’s teacher gives you answers to some of the questions you prepared without you needing to ask them.
  • Tell more about your child—You know your child better than anyone. Ask the teacher, “May I tell you more about my child?” to share other important information you might not have discussed before. Examples include any special interests your child has in books or how he seems to learn or use reading and writing skills through fun activities at home.
  • Inform teacher of anything going on at home—Let the teacher know if there is anything happening at home that could be impacting your child’s academic progress.
  • Ask for any explanations you might need—Don’t be shy when it comes to getting answers. Make sure to ask the teacher to further explain something if you don’t quite understand.
  • Offer at-home support—Ask how you can help to support your child’s literacy learning at home. Teachers can offer valuable tips to make learning at home easy and fun.

After Conference

  • Talk with your child—Share what you learned at the conference. Celebrate the successes and discuss how you are working with your child’s teacher to help her be successful in school.
  • At-home support—Plan how you will include at-home literacy support in your weekly routines and then put that plan into action.