Part I: Back-to-school questions for parents to ask teachers

A healthy parent-teacher relationship is important. With a new school year just around the corner, parents may be wondering how to advocate for their children while fostering a constructive partnership with their children’s educators.

Below are 10 questions, courtesy of Frederick Hess with the American Enterprise Institute, that will help parents bypass the oft-used instructional jargon and will (hopefully) result in straightforward answers that shed light on learning, school routines, and parent involvement. (For another helpful resource on communicating with school leadership, visit here.)

  1. What’s the best thing my child is going to read this year?
  2. What one value is at the heart of our school’s culture, and how does that show up on a daily basis?
  3. On a typical day, how much time will be spent on morning announcements, attendance-taking, and standing in lines?
  4. How will you know if my child is bored to tears and, if that happens, what’s your usual response?
  5. What’s the one paper, project, or unit that I should really expect my student to come home excited about?
  6. In a typical month, how many hours will be devoted to tests and test preparation?
  7. What was the most serious disciplinary issue at school last year, and how was it addressed?
  8. How frequently should I expect to hear updates about how my child is doing?
  9. If I email with a question or concern, how quickly should I expect to hear back?
  10. What’s the most important thing I can do to help my child be academically successful this year?

“If you get sensible, direct answers, it’s a promising sign that you’re in capable hands. If you get blank looks, hollow assurances, or gauzy generalities, that’s a useful caution,” concludes Hess. “Whatever the answers, you’ll have a better sense of what’s ahead.”

Got another great question to add to the list? Share it below!