6 Social Questions to Ask at Parent Teacher Conferences
By Nadine Briggs
While it seems like the school year has just started, it’s time to prepare for the parent teacher conferences. These quick meetings with the teacher can seem like speed dating where you may only have 10 minutes with the teacher. To optimize the use of your time, it’s best to be prepared with questions prior to the conference. Clearly, you will want to know how your child is doing academically, but here are some questions you can ask to find out how your child is doing socially.
1: What is my child’s demeanor in class?
Ask the teacher to describe your child’s demeanor in the classroom. Are they really shy when they have normally been the class clown or acting the class clown when usually shy? If your child is acting differently than you would expect, it could be due to issues of anxiety or making an extra effort to fit in with peers.
2. Is my child selected by other kids for group work?
Ask them if your child is selected for partners in group work or if they are usually the one who is selected last. Ask if the kids ever show dislike or eye rolling when your child joins the group.
3. Has my child shown impulsivity or sensory issues?
Ask if your child has been impulsive in the classroom. If your child has had issues of impulsivity in the past or if he or she seeks sensory input from others, they might benefit from having sensory or fidget tools available in the classroom. If you are concerned about learning style or suspect ADHD or some other testable issue, ask the teacher for his or her honest opinion about testing.
4. Let the teacher know that you want their honest opinion
Keep in mind that sometimes teachers will be at reluctant to tell you that they are worried about your child because some parents don’t react well to that type of news. It’s best to let them know that you are open to hearing any concerns and that you truly value their opinion.
5. Has my child formed friendships and is he/she gravitating toward kids who are a good match?
Ask if it appears your child has created any new friendships this school year. And if not, does the teacher know why that might be and are there any kids that they think could be potential friends for your child down the road. Check in to see if your child is repeatedly trying to join a group of kids who are not welcoming to him or her.
6. Do you know of any issues with my child at recess?
The teacher may not be aware of what your child is doing at recess but ask anyway. If there is a reason for concern, you could certainly check in with the school counselor to see if maybe they could take a peek out at recess and see how your child is doing. If you’re concerned about them socially, it might be a relief to find out if your child is actively playing with other children and not wandering around alone. If they are wandering alone on the play yard, you can ask the guidance counselor for social support during the school day or seek out a social skills group after school.
Time is short so be prepared to schedule more time later if needed
If you feel pressured for time during the conference and you have more questions or need to follow up, contact the teacher to schedule another time to talk so you feel like your child is getting the support he or she needs.
Scale 1 – 10 Check In
It’s also a good practice to check in with your child and see how happy they are on a scale of 1 to 10 on a fairly regular basis so you understand if there are drops in their number or increases in their number and you can inquire as to why. You could also ask your child some of the similar questions to see if they line up with the teacher’s opinion of how the school year is going.
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