Talk to Me: How and Why You Should Have a Homeschool Conference

It all started out with some questions from me and comments from Grace when she was in second grade.

“I don’t like this. It’s too hard.”

“ I really like drawing and painting. Can we do more of that?”

“I don’t understand what this book says!”

I slowly realized that she had some valid input and insight about her education despite being so young.  The next year I made it a point to ask her some questions about our homeschool. Now it has evolved into a full-fledged interview type process at a local coffee shop at least twice a year. As Charlotte Mason said, “Children are born persons.” They have thoughts and ideas just as much as the next person. While those thoughts might be juvenile, they can also be extremely insightful if you really listen and dig a bit. Right now is the perfect time to have a homeschool teacher-student conference since it’s the middle of the school year for most of you.

Talk to Me Homeschool Student Conference
It might seem a little silly to talk to your children about their homeschool. I mean you are with them all day anyway, but asking questions with purpose and truly listening are a great way to see school through their eyes. Subjects and curriculum that you think are getting the job done may be leaving your child confused and uninspired. Maybe they feel rushed by your current routine or would like to arrange their school subjects differently. I always placed math first in Grace’s subject line up since I knew it was her least favorite so I though it should be first so she could get it completed as quickly as possible. At our last teacher-student conference, she informed me that she would rather place it last and start with her favorite subjects. I never would have known if I had not asked! So how do you have a homeschool conference?

Talking with your child about their homeschool experience helps them begin to see their education as something of which they can take ownership and participate in as an equal. Sometimes children see themselves as constantly being bent to someone else’s will and rules. Homeschooling provides unique circumstances to let children pursue their passions and focus on what interests them in a way that public and private schools can not. Many times {I’m stepping on my own toes here!} homeschool parents forget about this benefit of homeschooling and try to model a traditional school setting too much. By forcing myself to talk to my children about their education a couple of times a year, it helps me remember that it is THEIR education which means I can customize it to THEM. It helps my children realize that it is their education and they can have an opinion about it.

Sound intriguing?

Here are some tips to make your teacher-student conference run as smoothly as possible:

Consider their maturity. It’s difficult to have a serious conversation about academics with a four or five year old. With younger children you usually benefit more by watching physical and emotional cues to learn what works and what doesn’t. Generally around second or third grade a child is ready to begin providing some legit verbal input about their education. Of course for some children this could be earlier or later.

Make it special. If you announce to most kids that you want to talk about school, it will probably elicit groans or a spontaneous game of hide and seek with you being the seeker! Instead I try to make it a special one on one time outside of the house. I take my notebook and a pen and basically interview my kids, but they enjoy this sort thing. You know your child best, but do try to come up with something a little out of the norm.

Emphasize that they can be honest. Honestly, this is the hardest one for me. Not because I don’t want my children to be honest with me, but because part of them being honest with you during teacher-student conference time is that you have to listen to what they say without commentary. So when your son starts complaining about the science curriculum you’ve been using this year, you can’t yell out, “That curriculum cost me over $100!!! We are using it, mister!” Not that I would ever do something like that with my children. *snort* This is their time to share. You sit. You listen. You take notes. You bite your tongue repeatedly. I also have this rule so that they feel comfortable being completely open with you, especially if you have a people-pleasing child who doesn’t want to make you upset. I don’t have that type of child so that’s about the only commentary I can give. I know they exist, but they are kind of elusive to me, like a yeti.

Ask questions to gather details. You want to really understand how your child perceives your homeschool so make sure your questions require more than a “yes” or “no” response. Questions like the following: What is/was your favorite subject? Why? What is/was your least favorite subject? Why? What do you feel you improved the most in this year? What do you feel you struggled with the most? What part of our schedule/routine of the day do you think works the best and the worst? What would you like to change about our homeschool? What could I do to be a better teacher? What could you do to be a better student? What goal would you like to make for the next year/semester? Usually while I’m asking these questions their response will make me think of other questions to ask that will give me even more information and input from them.

You can use all of the knowledge you glean from your child to create a plan of instruction that is tailor made for your child, help them plan academic or personal goals, attempt to correct any problem areas, and continue in what is going well. Teacher-student conferences has really made our homeschool more special for all of us.

Have you ever had a teacher-student conference as a homeschool parent?

Let me know in the comments below.
Talking it out in the tree house,


  1. I have these with my boys but it's very difficult. Boys don't talk! Any suggestions on getting boys to open up? The first time is was a disaster (they wouldn't talk to me at all about school). The second time they did open up a little but it was really hard getting through to them that they can't list "break time" as their favorite thing in school, what they wanted to do more of, and that was their favorite book. ; )

    1. LOL! My son isn't old enough for homeschool conferences yet, but I can see how it would be much more difficult with boys. My husband is not one known to sit down and gab with me for a thirty minute session of intense questioning. I'm totally throwing this out there as a tactic that would work with my husband, but maybe one question at a time. So instead of a big moment, maybe sit them down with some snacks and just ask one of the questions. Wait a week or so and ask another question. Hopefully some other parents with older boys will chime in as well!