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What really happens at school? When you’re relying on your kid’s recaps, it’s tough to tell…until you meet with the teacher. Then it’s your chance to learn why little Timmy loves math (or dreads it). Here, six questions you should ask at the next parent-teacher conference. 

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Does my child work her hardest in class?

If the answer is no, find out why. Is she overwhelmed or just bored? If she’s already getting straight A’s, could she be challenged more? Grades matter, but learning the value of hard work is just as important.

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Does my child play with different kids or does he always stick with the same buddies?

School isn’t just about classes, it’s also about socialization. Mingling with and enjoying new people is a valuable skill to develop early.

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What three words would you use to describe my kid in class?

Instructors are rarely given a chance to be creative when describing their students. This little job-interview-style question isn’t just a way to get insight into your kid’s school life, it’s also a great way to get your child’s teacher to remember you.

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Which subjects does my child seem to have the most fun with?

You may not even know that your kid loves building volcanoes in science class or spends his free time crafting short stories. Now that you know what he’s into at school, you can plan more of these activities at home, too.

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Will you contact me if you notice any unusual changes in behavior?

Face it—your little dependent spends more waking hours with her teacher and schoolmates than she does with you at home. If there’s been a recent illness in the family or a beloved pet has passed, remember to ask the village to keep an eye out for any emotional ripples that life changes may bring on.

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What could she be doing to improve?

It’s tough to ask for criticism of your child. But being brave and open-minded enough to get a professional’s assessment is the best gift you can give to your family. (If the comment feels wrong, you can always disregard it, but if you hear about Janie’s chatterbox classroom behavior from several teachers, get her into drama club, stat.)

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