5 Ways to Connect With Parents at Conferences

Making connections with parents is a great way to build support for your program. If parents are excited about what their children are getting out of art class, they will be more apt to fight to keep it in schools. Art shows, newsletters and social media are all great ways to connect with parents, but parent-teacher conferences provided a truly special opportunity. At parent-teacher conferences, you can make one-on-one, personal connections with parents. Today I’d like to share 5 ways to do just that.

5 Ways to Connect with Parents at Conferences

1. Make sure that parents come to see you.

At my school, my art room is nowhere near the regular ed classrooms. The location makes it easy for parents to miss me on conference nights. If you’re in the same situation, think about creating an eye-catching sign and ask teachers to put it up in their rooms on conference night. You can even buddy up with your other specials teachers to create one sign that works for everyone. If you want to get really fancy, you could add a map so parents know where to find you. Or, if you just can’t add one more thing to your to-do list, download my customizable version or the PDF version by clicking on the respective links.

2. Let parents see the actual work their students are doing.

When parents come to see you at conferences, one of the best ways you can make a connection is by showing them their student’s artwork. While this can be a huge hassle in terms of planning, I believe it’s worth it. You can talk about a student’s art until you’re blue in the face, but letting parents see and touch what their student has been working on is very powerful. I set my room up in stations so that each grade level has it’s own spot. This makes it much easier when I’m searching for a student’s portfolio.

3. Educate parents about the importance of arts education.

Have you ever had a parent say to you at conferences, “This must be such a fun job!” If so, it’s the perfect opportunity to agree with them, and then direct the conversation to what the arts have to offer. If you’d like to send your parents with a concrete reminder, download the “3 Main Reasons All Students Need Arts Education” right here. 

4. Have a survey station set up.

Anytime you involve people in decision-making, it creates better buy-in. So, ask parents: What do they think of the art coming home? What do they like about the art room? Are they visiting your art room blog? What changes would they like to see?  While you won’t be able to please everyone, some of the suggestions might surprise you. For example, I found out through a parent survey last year that parents wanted more frequent updates on my blog. I switched up my posting schedule, and have gotten many more visitors.

5. Send them with a parting gift.

Last month, I talked about two easy ways to get your blog address to parents. A business card is a great way to leave parents with a concrete reminder of the art room. If you don’t have a blog, think about what other information you could send with parents. A list of websites where kids can make art online, a list of local art galleries or a list of stores that carry art supplies would all be great choices. You can click here to find out where I send my students to make art online.

With these tips in mind, your next conference time is sure to be a success. Parents will feel more connected with what their students are doing in the art room and may gain a new perspective about the benefits of art education. Who knows, you may even find some new volunteers for your classroom!

How do you connect with parents during conference time?

Are you in your room? The library? Floating around? We’d love to hear what happens at your school.

Amanda Heyn

Learning Team

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • Another idea to get parents to come and see you is to hand back some art. I would hand back kindergarten clay during conferences. This guaranteed I got a chance to talk with all K families and get the new relationships formed. Many times I had their students for years after, so starting it off on the right foot was great. 
    Here is how I organized that:

  • Art Teacher Without a Home

    What would you suggest for those of us that actually have a classroom? 

  • Art Teacher Without a Home

    Disregard previous message – meant to ask, “What would you suggest to those of us WITHOUT an actual classroom?”

    • Dear Art Teacher Without a Home,

      Some of these ideas could still work if you sat in a central location. For example, maybe you could set up a table in the library. That way, you could still set out some take-aways or a set up a survey station. In regards to sharing student art, perhaps you could set up an Artsonia (www.artsonia.com) gallery for conference night with the help of a parent volunteer. You could use a laptop, ipad or computer and pull up artwork for any student’s parents that show up. Or, you could just bring a few samples from each grade level. That way, you could still talk about the projects while showing visuals. 

      Other teachers in this same position…what would you do!? 

  • Claire S.

    Thanks, Jessica!! This article has given me an idea for our up-coming parent conference day scheduled for early December. Early on I realized that art work arrived home in much better condition if it arrived as a ‘package’ rather than piece by piece so for several years I have saved all student work to send home as a portfolio at the end of each quarter / trimester. I have always tried to time it so portfolios arrived about the same time as report cards. This year I’ll ask parents (via our school newsletter and a sign in the hallway) to come to the art room to collect their child’s work when they come in for classroom conferences! I will also make some copies of “Why Art Education?” to send home, too. You are awesome!!

  • Claire S.

    Amanda, I just realized you wrote this article so thank you, too. The Art of Education Site is wonderful!

  • Pingback: What is Your Parent-Teacher Conference Style? | The Art of Ed()

  • Jessica S.

    Hi, do you have suggestions for an art survey for parents. I have never created a survey for parents. I want to make it quick, specific and multiple choice leaving some lines for comments on the bottom. It would not be beneficial to do it electronically because,
    I had only 4 families check my webpage on my school page, they do not look at our electronic grading, comment page. This is school wide. I would like to use a survey during report card night, where I will have a family art night with art displayed and tables for make and take art activities. During conference night (report card night) we do get at least 75% of the parents rather than doing an art night separately (experienced this during the last 7 years) in this school.
    My parents like to have a feeling that they are in a fair. Therefore during the night I will have a sign in sheet with treats and plan to have a table to fill out the survey before they go into the 4 different stations and look at the artwork displayed. Then in the same location the PTA will be selling drinks and other items. The conference night is April 10th. Note during conference night I usually have only one parent talk to me, during Family night I have many parents approach me, this works better for my school. During this night non-classroom teachers and aids help me with the stations to allow mobility.
    Please I need help in ideas for a survey. Thank you!

  • Pingback: 50 Ways to Make Art Class a Valued Part of Your Community | The Art of Ed()

  • ronnidart

    I do something a little unconventional. Each year we have an ornament sale at the first parent conference. Each student creates an ornament and it sold for a dollar at the parent conferences. We don’t have many students that don’t participate in Christmas but we do have a few. Those students create a similar item but without a Christmas theme. I try to coordinate the ornaments with our states annual Christmas tree, killing two birds with one stone. Each ornament is reserved for the student who made it until after Thanksgiving. Almost all the parents stop by and buy the ornaments. Over the years I thought about stopping this project, but so many parents have told me how these ornaments are such a treasure. The parents of the children who don’t celebrate Christmas have also told me how much they appreciate my making a special effort to include these children. The money raised goes to pay for the materials and allows me a little bit of cash for special projects. If a parent wants a private conference I have someone else watch the store for me and we go to a conference room or something.

  • Pingback: Making Student-led Conferences Work in the Art Room | The Art of Ed()

  • Pingback: Make Talking With Parents A Breeze With Table Displays | The Art of Ed()

  • Pingback: 3 Easy Setups for Parent Nights | The Art of Ed()

  • Pingback: Become More Visible This Year at Parent Teacher Conferences! | The Art of Ed()

  • Pingback: What To Tell Parents Who Say Art Doesn't Matter - The Art of Ed()