TIPS! Family Conferences:  Opening the Door to Quality Communication (ADM 6.1-6.5)

Have you considered how many times per year you invite families to participate in a conference to discuss children’s progress and development?  How often are conferences offered in your program? When and how will you inform families of these conferences?

Daily communication is one way to build relationships and keep families informed, but formal family conferences can boost family involvement in your program, strengthen relationships, and help promote positive outcomes for the children and your program.

Conferences give providers and families a chance to have focused discussions.  It is during these discussions that families and providers can discuss the child’s progress and development based on:

  • Observations and assessments
  • Portfolios
  • The child’s interests, strengths, and challenges
  • Background experiences
  • Information from an IEP/IFSP, if applicable
  • And additional topics that will continue to support each child’s success

Conferences may be held at the same time each year (i.e., winter and spring), during transitions where children may move to a new program or classroom, as requested by families, or as needed.

During family conferences, be prepared to discuss specific goals and suggest strategies and activities to support learning at home. Ask questions and provide adequate time for input from families. By working together, the children in your care will learn and grow to their fullest potential.

Some questions to consider as you start planning conferences:

  • How are families made aware of your conference schedule? Do you have the schedule in your family handbook, a calendar or newsletter?
  • How do parents sign up for a conference?

There are a variety of ways to approach holding conferences with families. Do you have any tips for engaging families in conferences? If so, we’d love to hear them! Share them with us at