After getting the kids back into their school routine, parents have yet another to-do item on their back-to-school checklist: “Attend Back-to-School Night” (aka, Parent Night, Parent Information Night, Curriculum Night , Meet-the -Professors’ evening…) Regardless of the name, the goal is the same: to create a link between school and home that will promote student success. This is the night when teachers can share their plans and expectations, and parents can visit their child’s classroom and ask the teacher questions.
With so much to do to ensure a great school year, it can be hard to know if attending these events will make a real difference for your child. We asked a diverse group of educators, many of whom asked for first name anonymity, to give parents their top tips, do’s and don’ts for back-to-school night. Here’s what they had to say:
Is back-to-school night important?
Schedule conflicts and competing priorities can make it difficult for parents to put a back-to-school night at the top of their to-do list, but these meetings are important for building a relationship with your child’s teacher and understanding what is happening. on in the classroom.
The best back-to-school tip for parents, according to Renee, a fifth-grade teacher from Chicago? To arrive. “That may sound basic,” she says, “but in many cases in large public school districts (especially some of the lower-income communities where students are served), that’s the dilemma we’ve encountered. ” Parents and teachers need to work together to achieve goals and overcome barriers to learning, Renee adds, then asks, “Can you imagine being a teacher and never meeting a student’s parent or guardian for the whole ‘school year ?”
How to approach your child’s back-to-school party
Kasey, a middle school teacher from Savannah, Georgia, says when parents introduce themselves, how they introduce themselves is also important. “Addressing parent night (or anytime) with an emphasis on collaboration with the teacher goes a long way.”
Another great use for Back-to-School Night? Kasey says this is a great time to check if the teacher needs extra supplies for students who don’t have them, or to ask about fundraisers to show support for teachers. “If you can’t give anything, just associating with the teacher and striving to be kind in all interactions is a wonderful way to show the teacher you appreciate them.”
Helen, a third-grade teacher in Miami, agrees with this active show of support, suggesting parents bring items from the teacher’s class wish list to homecoming night.
Before homecoming night
Listen to your child
Before parent night, listen to your child’s opinion and experience of the class. Eduardo says the back-to-school party gives parents the opportunity to “get an idea of who the teacher is, what the class is talking about and confirm or refute any judgments their child/student has. worn at the beginning of the school year”.
Show up with an open mind
“I think the parent who gets the most out of parent night/open house/back-to-school night is the one who goes there with an open mind,” says Eduardo, a high school teacher in Naperville, Utah. ‘Illinois. Arriving with an open mind will allow parents to form their own opinions, based on their personal interactions and experience, instead of relying solely on the views of their child, former students or other parents.
Prepare in advance
Read all the materials your child has brought home during the first few weeks of school, including the teacher’s wish list if they have one. Mercedes Medina, a Miami-Dade College law professor, said, “Review report cards, assignments, and the curriculum (if applicable) before the meeting.” This may also include progress reports and graded assignments, quizzes, tests, or handouts.
- Arrive late and disrupt the meeting.
- Try to discuss your child with the teacher before the meeting.
- Discuss the teacher with other parents outside of the classroom.
On homecoming night
Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher
Introducing yourself to the teacher allows a moment for one-on-one connection and makes it easier for the teacher to connect your face with your child. This is especially important if the parent’s last name differs from that of their child.
Take notes and ask questions
During the meeting, write down important dates and information provided. Ask general questions and/or ask for clarification and write down any questions you would like to ask privately, especially regarding your particular child.
Find out the best way to contact your child’s teacher
Dr. Rebecca Christ, a former Missouri teacher, says parents should ask their child’s teacher about the best form of communication (e.g., email, letter, phone, etc.) and during what period (e.g. their planning period, before school, after school, etc.) works best for them. “That doesn’t mean you can’t reach out at another time or in a different format if needed,” Christ says, “but you’ll be less likely to catch the teacher off guard, and they may be better off prepared to communicate.”
Focus on the positive
Help create a positive environment. “Take the time to publicly praise the things you’re happy with,” says Elisbela, a Miami teacher/administrator. Try to take into consideration all the work the teacher has done to prepare for the night and for the school year ahead.
Join a private conference to share details
“If a parent wants to know details about their own child or wants to share important personal information, the teacher may need to know family dynamics, medical history, etc.” says Renee, “send an email to schedule a time to talk or meet with your child’s teacher another day.”
- Ask questions or raise concerns that are unique to your child.
- Skip the questions for the teacher (and try to get answers from other parents later). This is the time to get answers from the source.
- Address school issues that are beyond the teacher’s control – take them directly to the administration.
- Chat with other parents or text while the teacher is talking.
After the homecoming party
Think with questions
After the back-to-school party, Eduardo says, parents should ask themselves questions that can help them determine the best next steps. These questions may include:
- “Is this lesson as difficult/easy as my student thinks it is?” »
- “Does the teacher’s first impression confirm what my child thinks?”
- “Can my student come to class on time even if he tells me otherwise?”
- “Should I meet this professor?”
- “What questions should I ask them at our scheduled parent-teacher meeting?”
- “What do I need to let this teacher know about my student who will help them succeed in the classroom when or if we have a parent-teacher meeting?”
Discuss the meeting with your child
If your child is old enough, share what you learned at Parent Information Night and how you plan to support him, his school and his teacher.
Email the teacher
Send a follow-up email to reflect on the meeting, ask your quick questions, or address your concerns.
How do I approach a teacher in an email? Begin by introducing yourself, your child, and add a sincere compliment. You also want to avoid a long email when your thoughts or concerns will be better expressed and understood face to face with the teacher.
Make a plan
Medina recommends that parents create an age-appropriate plan for their children after Parents’ Night. “Create a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) plan to work with your child(ren) to help them improve their work, taking into account school challenges and activity participation.”
She adds that parents should share the plan with their child’s teachers and be open and willing to adjust the plan with teacher feedback.
Stay logged in
- Connect with parents: Helen recommends joining a class chat to keep in touch with other parents. Class chats are app-based group chat tools created by many teachers or parents to relay information and organize parents around activities that support the teacher, students, and/or the class.
- Communicate the changes in your child’s life: Jackie, a pre-kindergarten teacher from Charlotte, North Carolina, says she wants parents to share the changes happening at home so she can support them in the classroom.
- Support all year round: Reach out throughout the school year to show your support, adds Jackie. “Ask teachers if they need anything else that isn’t on their wish list…some teachers have to splurge with their own money and want to do good for their children.”
- Stay late to have a private conference with the teacher about your child – always arrange a separate conference time with the teacher at an agreed time.
- Communicate with the principal about complaints before speaking privately with the teacher.
- Gossip about the teacher with other parents.
- Forget leaving a note of encouragement for your child in their classroom workspace.
Every year, every student, parent and teacher arrives with the secret wish that this new school year will be better than the last. When students, parents, teachers, and administrators work together, they can help make that wish come true.