Parent-teacher conferences are often held four times in a school year and seem like a fairly straightforward event—the mom or dad shows up, talks to their child’s teachers to see how their son or daughter is doing in school, picks up the report card and brings it home to their child.
However, Little Folks Big Questions notes that as with any other social event, there are rules of etiquette that really have to be followed not only by the teachers, but by the parents as well.
Some are pretty much common sense—don’t show up without gargling some mouthwash, make an effort to engage with the teachers and lend the teachers a friendly ear, since they know best about how a child can improve his or her academic standing.
Others are a bit more subtle, such as not eating a snack or even a full meal when in the middle of a robust discussion with a teacher. After all, teachers are taking the time out of their busy day to meet up with their students’ parents and often don’t have time to eat much, if anything before the big event. It’s rude to chow down when their stomachs are grumbling because it is way past their usual mealtime.
For parents that want to err on the side of caution, underneath is a compilation of the pitfalls that need to be avoided during parent-teacher conferences.
20 Insinuating That The Child's Grades Are The Teacher's Fault
Look, no parent likes hearing that their child has grades that aren’t quite up to par with one’s expectations, but Very Well Family points out that it is so not cool to barge into a parent-teacher conference and immediately start placing all the blame on the teacher.
There are so many reasons as to why a child’s grades need improvement. In some cases, it is due to the fact that they slacked off a bit for whatever reason and in others it is due to the fact that the subject is proving to be a bit difficult for them and they might need some tutoring session to help them fully grasp it.
19 Slacking Off On Getting To Know The Teacher
Very Well Family adds that it is very important for the parents to make a concentrated effort to get to know the teacher well before they show up at parent-teacher conferences. Growing up in a family full of teachers, I can safely say that it irritates teachers to no end when their students’ parents don’t bother to get to know them and don’t make any effort at a cordial relationship.
Many schools have open houses or other events, which are fantastic opportunities to volunteer and get to know all of the teachers that work there. Plus, events like that are also a good opportunity for a child to get some hands-on volunteer experience and make new friends while their parents chat a bit with their teachers.
18 Bringing The Child To The Meeting
It can be tempting for parents with very busy and hectic schedules to simply bring their child along for parent-teacher conferences so that’s one less thing that they have to check off on their to-do list, but E-Notes writes that your child should stay home during this event.
There is too much of a risk that your child is going to wind up feeling incredibly embarrassed during the entire event, especially if their grades haven’t been as good as they could be and it can feel like a public reprimand. It’s better to have a quiet and objective discussion with the teacher one-on-one without putting your child in the middle of it.
17 Ignoring The Teacher's Insight On The Child's Behavior
Kids Health points out that your child’s teacher often has good insights as to your child’s behavior in school and it’s not cool to ignore their advice or act as if your child has tons of wisdom beyond their years.
I’ll be frank—I was a pretty good student when I was in high school and didn’t really put a toe out of line, but looking back, there were definitely some behaviors that I could’ve changed that would have benefitted me in the long run. Don’t reject the teacher’s advice; they have years of experience and they know how to help.
16 Forgetting To Ask How The Child Is Doing Emotionally
Turn It In adds that parents should not forget to check in with their child’s teachers during parent-teacher conferences to make sure that they are thriving emotionally too.
A student can have decent grades, but they could be floundering emotionally at school for a wide variety of reasons and it is important that parents make sure that their child is doing well both in terms of their academics and their emotional health. Take it from me—I never liked junior high because I had a math teacher that wasn’t very nice (she was also our school’s principal, lucky me) and she used to poke fun at all the students (myself included) that were not good at math.
15 Not Turning That Cell Phone Off
Little Folks Big Questions urges all parents to either turn off their cell phones completely or at the very least, put it on silent or vibrate only. Also, for the love of Pete, resist the urge to take a phone call or respond to a text message in the middle of a parent-teacher conference.
No one likes having their conversation interrupted by a loud ringtone or buzzing and it is very rude to take a phone call in the middle of a discussion with your child’s teacher. You can afford to shut your cell phone off for 20 minutes and if it’s an important phone call, then they can simply leave you a voicemail so that you can respond once you are done talking to your child’s teachers.
14 Using The Conference To Rant To The Teacher About The Child
Very Well Family notes that it is important for parents to not use parent-teacher conferences as a way to vent about all the little issues that are going on at home, especially with your son or daughter.
It reflects badly on you if you barge into parent-teacher conferences and expect your child's teacher to listen sympathetically as you go on a rant about all the little things that your child does that gets on your nerves and that you wish you could change. Save that for a mom’s night out or for a date night with your significant other—your child’s teacher does not want and certainly does not need to hear it.
13 Showing Up Late
Very Well Family writes that it is not a good look for a parent to show up late to the parent-teacher conferences. There is only so much time available for the teacher to talk to you about your child’s performance and behavior in school, so by showing up late it is a sign to the teacher that you’re not taking any potential issues seriously and that you don’t really care to work on improving the situation with your child.
Plus, it is extremely rude towards the other parents that have made an effort to show up on time and that are eagerly waiting in line in order to talk to the teacher.
12 Forgetting To Follow Up With Any Assigned Tasks That Will Help The Child Improve
Thoughtco writes that it is common for some teachers to identify the areas a child could use some improvement in and give the parents some “homework” during the conference in order to help them help their little one succeed in their educational path.
It’s so important that you take this homework seriously and make sure that you consistently follow up with the teacher. They really want to know that they can count on you as part of the team and would appreciate it if mom or dad kept them up to speed about how they’re implementing the “homework” and how their child is improving.
11 Comparing The Child To Classmates
In my experience as a student, it’s pretty common for gossip and rumors to fly around school pretty quickly. I went to a small private high school and by the end of the quarter, pretty much everyone knew everyone else’s grades. For better or for worse, talk travelled quickly in my insular high school.
Turn It In adds that of course, this means that parents are often privy to the knowledge of how their child’s friends fared in school. Resist the temptation to compare your child to his or her buddies; make sure you keep the conversation short, sweet, and to the point. The focus should always be on your child, and your child only.
10 Acting Reluctant To Discuss The Child's Life Outside Of School
Little Folks Big Questions notes that parents should be prepared to share information about their child’s life when they’re not attending school, such as how many pets the family owns or their hobbies.
It’s not a good idea to be reluctant and refuse to give out that kind of information, as these anecdotes might seem meaningless to you, but they are often used as a way for teachers to bond with their students. For example, if a parent tells them that their daughter likes dogs, then a teacher can use the subject to get to know their student and encourage them—all of which they can’t really do if the parent clams up.
9 Making It Obvious That Listening Isn't Happening
Thoughtco writes that it is very important for mom and dad to show up and be ready to truly listen to what the teacher has to say about their child. This includes following their advice on how they can improve the areas in which their child needs a bit of a boost, so that means don’t let the talk go in on ear and out the other.
My mother and my aunt both worked as teachers in the public school system before they retired and they always used to say during the holidays that it was incredibly frustrating when they encountered parents that clearly didn’t want to listen to them for one reason or another because it wound up making their jobs 10 times harder.
8 Becoming Overly Emotional Or Agitated
Look, no one likes to hear that their child could use plenty of improvement in a certain subject. Goodness knows that my parents weren’t thrilled when my high school math teacher told them that it was definitely not my best subject and she recommended that I be placed in a different class next year because the teacher had more experience than she did in working with the children that weren’t great at math.
Be that as it may, Thoughtco points out that it is very important for parents to control their emotions during the conference and not turn red with anger or get too upset when they find out their child needs a boost. These things happen after all, and it’s nothing a tutor can’t fix.
7 Acting Like You Know Better Than The Teacher
Thoughtco adds that it is very important for moms and dads to not enter the parent-teacher conference with an overly inflated ego and act as if they know better than the teacher does.
Sure, you might be with your child more, but your teacher knows what kind of student they are and their study habits. They also have years of education and experience under their belt; unless you too work in the education field as a teacher, it is best to stay humble and listen to the teacher. Acting egotistical is only going to wind up making things worse for both you and your child.
6 Being In Denial Of Any Hurdles That The Child Needs To Overcome
Kids Health writes that it’s not cool when a teacher offers constructive criticism on how your child can improve or points out the hurdles that they need to overcome in school and the parent shoves their head in the sand faster than any ostrich on the planet.
The fact of the matter is that everyone learns differently, and some children might require being tested through an IEP so that they can get the extra help they need in school so that they can succeed. Heck, I wish that someone had tested me for dyscalculia when I was a child and if I had it, set up some extra help for me in school because math classes were always my weakness.
5 Dining While Discussing
With parent-teacher conferences, there are often several slots held in the afternoons and in the evenings in order to accommodate everyone’s different schedules. For parents with hectic schedules, it might seem like no big deal if you stop and get a late lunch to bring with you while you’re chatting with the teacher, but that’s actually a huge faux pas.
Little Folks Big Questions points out that you should never, ever bring food or something to drink, especially if the appointment was scheduled during lunch or dinner time because there’s a good chance that the poor teacher hasn’t had a chance to really eat a full meal and it’s rude to eat in front of him or her when their stomachs are probably growling like a wolf.
4 Blowing It Off Entirely
Teachers fully understand that parents have busy lives and hectic schedules that might make them run a few minutes late to parent-teacher conferences at their child’s school and have no problems making allowances for that, but it’s pretty rude to just ignore the event entirely.
Thoughtco writes that parent-teacher conferences are important because it allows you to identify what areas your child might need some help in and form a team with their teachers to help them improve. Teachers have busy lives too, and it’s not a good look when you don’t even have the good manners to take the time to show up and talk to them.
3 Showing Up Unprepared And Without Questions
Turn It In writes that it is a major faux pas if a parent doesn’t come prepared to the parent-teacher conferences with a list of questions to ask their child’s teacher.
Coming up with a list of questions to ask your child’s teacher shows them that you are ready to engage with them and that you are prepared to work together for the benefit of your son or daughter. It also shows the teacher that you are prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to help your child succeed in both school and beyond.
2 Not Making An Effort To Get In Touch With The Teacher
Very Well Family writes that a parent-teacher conference shouldn’t be the first time that a mother or a father meets their child’s teacher. Not only is that going to be totally awkward for both parties, but it is also incredibly rude on the part of the parents too.
It is best to make an effort to get to know the teachers well before the conferences are scheduled. It doesn’t have to be a long-winded in-person event, a simple phone call or email should suffice and it will make things far less awkward when parent and teacher meet during parent-teacher conferences at the child’s school.
1 Acting As If The Child Can Do No Wrong
Kids Health warns parents that under no circumstances should they ever act as if their child is a precious little angel that can do no wrong, ever. Even the best-behaved child is going to have some bad days and act like the Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes cartoons that used to air on Cartoon Network back in the day.
Besides, children can sometimes act very different at home with their parents and can show their teacher a very different side to their personality when they are in school. I remember one of my elementary school classmates was pretty much the class clown, but his mom was so surprised to find that out during parent-teacher conferences because he was a bit more sedate at home.