Middle School Parent-Teacher Conferences: What to Ask

Middle school can feel like an entirely different beast from elementary school, with teachers for every subject, a larger school, and often more extracurricular opportunities — not to mention the major personal growth your child is going through!

We’ve already gone over what to ask at high school parent-teacher conferences, but here are some topics to go over when you meet with your child’s teachers for middle school parent-teacher conferences:

1. Your child’s academic progress

One of the most important topics you’ll cover is your child’s academic progress, including both strengths and weaknesses. You’ve made your own observations at home — and from what your child has told you — but the teacher’s perspective can help round out your own. What are specific concepts, units, or learning styles has your child has taken to? In which areas does your child struggle? The teacher can articulate academic accomplishments and challenges in a different way than your child might.

2. Grade-level expectations

Ask the teacher how your child fares according to grade-level expectations. This is extremely helpful if your child is thinking about taking accelerated classes, like honors, and potentially AP and IB courses later on in high school. Similarly, does your child need additional support to reach grade-level goals, like summer school or after-school help? Talking with the teacher about grade-level expectations can be very useful in seeing where your child can direct his or her attention academically, but remember that grade-level goals aren’t necessarily the end-all be-all. Simply use them as a guideline and pay attention to all factors.

3. Class policies

Every teacher has a different way to run his or her classroom, with some overlaps with other instructors in the school. Discuss this teacher’s classroom policies, as well as classroom norms. You might also ask if there are any opportunities to make up tests or extend due dates — if your child is absent, for instance — as well as what the major components are of your child’s overall grade in the class. Especially when your child is transitioning to middle school (with up to seven teachers a day versus just one or two!), having this conversation can help you and your child implement and organize specific study strategies for each subject.

4. Assessments and long-term projects

Middle school assessments can feel more serious (and they often are!) compared to elementary school projects and tests. Ask the teacher how your child will be assessed and given percentages or letter grades. In what ways will your child be asked to demonstrate his or her growing knowledge? Will there be any long-term projects, like a science fair, research papers, or lengthy writing assignments with bigger timelines that would benefit from being broken down into more manageable parts? Knowing about these ahead of time is helpful so you can support your middle schooler at home.

5. Tips and resources

End the conversation by going over what you or your child can do outside the classroom to make this middle school experience more successful. The teacher will likely be able to offer study tips that have worked for past students, as well as outside resources, including book recommendations, online learning tools, or events in the community that might be of interest to your child.

Depending on how your child’s particular middle school works, you may not get scheduled opportunities to meet with every single teacher your child sits with during the school day. Instead, you may just meet with a homeroom teacher or a teacher in one of your child’s major subjects. If you’d like an additional meeting with a specific teacher or have a specific concern, email or call the school to set up an appointment with him or her.

Any topics you want to know more about? Let us know! The Varsity Tutors Blog editors love hearing your feedback and opinions. Feel free to email us at blog@varsitytutors.com.