11 Things You Should Never, Ever Forget to Share at a Parent-Teacher Meeting

A parent-teacher meeting doesn't always have to be consumed with casual small talk. This year, come prepared for—and make the most of—your conference by providing them with useful information they should know about your child.

Pretty teacher smiling at camera at back of classroom at the elementary schoolShutterstock / ESB Professional
Shutterstock / ESB Professional

After cooking everyone breakfast, preparing bag lunches, making sure the kids don’t miss their bus and clocking in a 9-to-5 work day, a parent-teacher meeting is probably the last thing on a busy parent’s to-do list. Get ready to give your children’s teachers a rundown about them and how things are going in their lives right now— especially the things that might affect the way they behave and learn in school. Here’s a list of the crucial information your teacher really ought to know so everyone can make this year the best it can be.

Changes at Home

Though you don’t have to share the nitty-gritty details about your personal life with the teacher, it’s a good to be on the same page when life-changing events arrive. Here are some of the most-important to share.

New to the District

Not every child is comfortable with change. If you’ve recently made a big move and your child is going to be a new kid in a different school district, it’s wise to make note of that in the parent-teacher meeting. It might explain the child’s initial lack of enthusiasm or inability to make close friends those first few months of school.

Recently Divorced Parents

It’s never easy for anyone involved when two parents get divorced, but it can be especially difficult for a younger child who doesn’t have the maturity to fully understand what’s going on. Giving the heads-up on a fresh split from your spouse will prepare a teacher for seemingly unprovoked or unusual behavior—like acting out for attention.

A Death in the Family

Regardless of whether it was sudden or expected, a recent passing of a family member will leave any child grieving for an extended period of time. When teachers are made aware of the loss, they can provide additional comfort and support.

Difficulties in the Past

A teacher can be your child’s greatest ally when it comes to personal difficulties, be they educational, social or behavioral. Giving your teacher a brief overview of any notable issues can help set your kid up for a successful school year.

A History of Being Bullied

Whether it’s technology-fueled cyberbullying or an unsettling face-to-face conflict, bullying is not appropriate. Period. Fill your kid’s teachers in on any ongoing bullying that your son or daughter has been subjected to in the past, so that they can keep an eye out for and head off any future events.

Challenging Subjects

Math, science, history and literature can be tough subjects to learn. When a child clearly plays favorites and neglects a specific subject altogether, make that known. A teacher might have more luck than you do getting the child to come around.

Personalities and Temperaments

A teacher who tries to break students out of their shells is probably just trying to do them a favor. But if you’re the parent of a severely shy child or one lacking in confidence, you might not want them to use this approach on your child. Letting the teacher know about unique, specific or inhibiting behaviors your child has ahead of time will help the two to better communicate throughout the year.

Health

It may be obvious to some, but make sure your child’s teacher (and school nurse!) are fully aware of any health concerns they might need watch out for. Check off the list below at your meeting.

Food Allergies

A fellow student’s school birthday treat or a certain meal offered in the lunch room could easily earn a child with food allergies a trip to the doctor. Avoid this unpleasant scenario by providing the teacher and nurse with a list of what your child is allergic to. Tree nuts, fish and milk are among the most common.

Got classroom duty? Here’s a list of allergy-free snacks to share with the class.

Eating Disorders

Although they might seem uncommon, eating disorders are very real—and they’re serious issues that don’t discriminate by gender or age. Whether your child was recently diagnosed or on the way to recovery, it’s important to let teachers know.

Learning Disabilities

If your child has a learning disability, it’s pretty likely that they’re already seeing a specialist within the school district. Since every child’s disability entails its own unique circumstances, though, it’s best to put it on the teacher’s radar, too.

Diagnosed Psychological Disorders

Anxiety, mood and attention disorders are just three of the many psychological disorders that children can have. A psychological disorder is always worth mentioning—especially if your child needs to take prescribed medication at some point during the school day.

Noteworthy Medical Conditions

School nurses should always be made aware of any medical conditions a student has, be it asthma, low blood sugar or diabetes. Preparing a teacher for what could potentially happen to your child in case of a medical emergency—and devising a plan to act accordingly—will optimize your child’s safety.

Taking the time to chat with your child’s teacher—and remembering everything you have to say—is definitely worth the 30 minutes or so that a parent-teacher meeting entails. Take some time to prepare your talking points beforehand, too. It’ll start the school year off on a proactive note, readying the teacher for what’s to come and helping them put your child at ease.

Psst! Prepping for the first day? Here’s our guide making a back-to-school kit for kids of any age.

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Taylor Murphy
Taylor is a food, parenting and health writer. When she's not writing about the newest Oreo flavor or her favorite kitchen appliance, she can be found searching for her next coffee fix or taste-testing recipes with her daughter.