Why parent-teacher conferences are important

Tammy McIntyre

Informed, engaged parents aid a child’s development

For most parents, parent-teacher conferences seem to take place on evenings when you’re either just getting home from work, racing to cook dinner, or dealing with childcare issues. Parent-teacher conferences are easy to ignore, particularly if they are poorly attended and don’t seem to impact your child’s education.

Should today’s busy moms and dads make parent-teacher conference meetings a priority? Research on the impact of parental engagement on child development supports parental attendance of these meetings.

Why parents do not come out to meetings

So what stops parents from being present at parent-teacher meetings? Parents are busy, tired and stressed. Work schedules, childcare needs, and having children in multiple schools are also possible barriers to attendance.

In some cases, moms and dads can live pretty far from their child’s school. It’s not that they don’t care and don’t want to be engaged in their child’s school; it’s just that with all the other demands competing for their time, as well as all the other events that bring them into school (i.e., sports, plays, field trips and other celebrations), it becomes less of a priority to rearrange schedules, brave cold or wet weather, forgo helping their child with homework, or take public transportation in the cold.

Stay informed

Even with these barriers, parent-teacher conferences help parents to see up close and personal how their child is progressing in real time, not just when report cards come out. Parents must realize that they have the primary responsibility for their child’s education. Education begins at home.

Here is what you can do to stay informed and engaged in your child’s education:

  • Attend parent-teacher conferences. Bring your own questions and concerns, and also be prepared to listen to what the teacher has to say.
  • As responsible citizens, parents should make an effort to learn more about educational issues and exercise their rights to voice their opinions and vote.
  • Show respect for teachers. Respect for school personnel must be taught in the home.
  • Help your children to apply what they learn in school to real-life situations. This will help them to realize that what they learn in school and out of school are connected.
  • Create a quiet place where your child can study in private, away from other family members, radio, television, etc.
  • Read to your children, beginning when they are very small. Good reading is essential, even in this age of computerized education. Have your child read to you. This is a good way to be sure your children are reading their textbooks and understand what they are reading.
  • Take the time to review the books your children are using in school. Ask your child to describe what they did that day in a specific subject area. Just asking what they did in school usually brings a “nothing” response.


Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to mcintyre_tammy@rocketmail.com.