Heritage holds parent conferences twice a year to invite parents to visit the campus, see their child’s progress and meet the staff members who care for and work with their child. Parent Conference was held August 13 – 15 with nearly 120 parents attending.
Director of Therapeutic Programs, Eugene Marshall, gave a rundown of what parent conferences involve.
“Therapists conduct workshops with the parents and meet with the children, teachers and staff,” he said. “What is unique about this (recent) conference is that on Saturday, we did recreation therapy activities. In April all parents and students did a ROPES course; this time we did a lot of different activities on campus where we were working together as families.”
Eugene said in one activity parents and students were given an art project – a picture of something scenic and also a wooden craft lizard to put on the scenic picture.
“They had to paint over it to try to blend it into scenic picture they were given,” he said. “It was one of the highest rated activities ever done with very positive comments on the survey. They process how this applies to family dynamics. Parents enjoy seeing what their kids will say. Kids don’t feel like it’s a therapy session.”
Parents were invited to eat meals with students over the weekend. At the April parent conference parents are invited to see a performance of one of Heritage students’ annual plays. During the August conference Eugene said it was the intramural soccer championship games. Parents watched students play soccer and ate at a Heritage hosted barbecue, complete with ice cream bars.
“It’s an exciting time on campus,” Eugene said. “The kids are extremely excited. They want to show their parents how well they are doing and introduce them to their friends, including staff members. Parents hear about these people and it’s good for them to put a face with a name.”
It’s not just the students who have homework. Parents are sent home with goals and a workbook. Eugene said one of the goals of parent conferences is to teach parents skills and help them understand how to help their children.
“It’s two of the busiest weeks on campus but also the most exciting time for parents, staff and students,” he said. “It’s fantastic – it goes very fast, but those conferences also seem to have very positive outcomes. For us we enjoy seeing the parents see their kids function within this therapeutic environment. It’s very gratifying.”