By Pryor Rayburn, Director of Lower School ERP; Laura Hayes, Director of Middle School ERP; and Ginna Clute, Director of ERP JK-12

Fall conferences can provide great insight into your child’s progress in the new school year and a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the parent-teacher/advisor relationship. In order to get the most out of this brief encounter, we encourage parents to consider these four important points:

Before you go, get ready.

While teachers/advisors are the “main event” at conference time, your role as the parent is no less vital. To prepare for the meeting, be sure to review your child’s last progress report/report card. It’s helpful to know where your child was previously to be able to recognize growth and continued challenges. You may also want to jot down any questions you have about the school’s programs or policies and note information you can share with the teacher/advisor about your child and life at home (especially if anything has changed). Here are some questions to consider asking:

  • What I can do at home to reinforce my child’s learning?
  • What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are my child’s challenges/weaknesses age-appropriate or should I be concerned?
  • What major concepts or skills will my child be learning over the next several months?
  • In middle school, when is extra help held for each class and how should I encourage my child to attend?
  • How does my child get along with classmates?
  • When will I receive the next update on my child’s progress?

When the time arrives, be there and be on time.

Attending the conference is essential to building the relationship with your child’s teacher/advisor and maintaining lines of communication. By arriving on time, or even a few minutes early, you communicate to teachers that you respect and appreciate their time. Keep in mind you are not the only parent with whom the teacher is meeting—try to stay within your allotted conference time. You can always schedule a follow-up phone call or check-in if needed.

Plan for the future: Keep the lines of communication open.

Arrange a way to communicate going forward. Ask whether the teacher’s preferred method of communication is phone calls, e-mails, or continued meetings. If you want to monitor certain behaviors or skill development for your child, set a future check-in point. For example, “Let’s all encourage Johnny to attend extra help for math at least twice a week and see if that helps him grasp this new concept. Why don’t we check in again in two weeks for an update?”

In Middle School, if you have further questions related to a class that your child’s advisor does not teach, establish the best way to communicate those concerns. Should you reach out directly to the classroom teacher or is the advisor able to facilitate that discussion?

Don’t forget to celebrate!

While conferences are a time to learn more about your child’s progress in the classroom, it is also a time to celebrate your child’s accomplishments. Make the most of your conference time and enjoy hearing from your child’s teacher about all of your child’s achievements.