Don’t Wait for Better Grades: Why Now Is the Time to Check Your Child’s Progress

The first semester of the academic year goes more quickly than any parent or child fathoms. It always seems like it was just Labor Day weekend - then Thanksgiving and the holiday season arrive in the blink of an eye. At this still-early point in the year, it’s not only useful to take stock of your child’s progress thus far… it’s essential, according to Tony Kemper, Head of The de Paul School.

Parents may be wondering what they can do this school year when their children seem to be experiencing the same difficulties as in previous school years.

“When parents come in and see us around October or November, they are often disillusioned about the remainder of the year,” Kemper explains. “But I tell them a significant part of the year is still ahead of their child and we can’t allow ongoing concerns and frustrations to defeat us.”

Kemper urges parents to take action in the autumn. Begin a process that will help students make the most of the year’s remainder, rather than simply repeating former negative patterns. The period from October to late November is critical, in advance of the holiday season which can upset routines and compromise attention.

Parents need to be vigilant and make sure that the re-emerged cycle of falling behind does not perpetuate yet again this year. A child who is already behind his or her peers cannot afford to write off two months – November, December – or even one month of any academic year. Every single instructional day of the school year matters.”

According to Kemper and the admissions team at The de Paul School, if the first parent-teacher conference reveals concerns in the fall semester, that is an ideal time to create a plan. Kemper noted that The de Paul School receives a dramatic increase in parental inquiries after the initial round of school conferences, and addresses those inquiries with a call to action.

“My first recommendation is that parents look for similarities to the challenges they have faced in previous school years,” he says. “Parents should document similarities and differences between current and previous years. If, for example, we’re talking about a fifth grader, how does this fall's reading compare to last fall in the fourth grade? Have last year’s difficulties with homework completion endured into this new school year?”

Once parents have noted these similarities and differences, it’s time to schedule meetings with the child’s teachers and even school administrators – but it helps everyone to come prepared, Kemper says. A bullet-point list is a great way to keep such meetings focused and productive.

“Bring three to five very particular concerns. For example, reading comprehension issues, erratic report card results, incomplete homework assignments, any discrepancies between the child’s daily performance and assessment results,” he says. “Having these points to talk about helps educators to help the parent and student.”

Kemper and the educators at The de Paul School want parents to know that they, as experts in learning differences, are willing to help with any school-related concern which students and parents are facing. That includes organizational challenges, social skills, and independent study skills.

“Share your concerns with classroom teachers and administrators, and earnestly ask what you can do besides simply enduring it,” Kemper advises. “Ask them, ‘How can we make a difference collaboratively with so much school year remaining?’”

Ready to discuss your child’s progress and learn how the de Paul School might be a good fit? Visit