The Ultimate Parent Guide to Back-to-School Night

The Ultimate Guide to Back-to-School Night

What is back-to-school night? What should I ask? Should I make it a priority? I’ve got a complete guide, plus questions for you to ask your student’s teacher.

The Ultimate Guide to Back-to-School Night

As we head back to school, it is important to make a mental note of all the events taking place at the school this year.

In my experience, students with actively involved parents are more successful and have fewer problems at school.

In this blog, we will discuss Back-to-School Night, questions you should ask your student’s teacher, and what to expect when you arrive. We will also discuss the differences between Back-to-School Night, Open House, and Parent <> Teacher conferences, to ensure you are completely prepared. Let’s get started.

What is Back-to-School Night?

What is back-to-school night?

Back-to-School Night is a time when we (teachers) open up our classrooms and showcase our goals, standards, structure, rules, and ideas for the school year. We can answer general questions about the year and specific questions about content.

Since we are in a group setting, we try not to have private conversations about a single student. Of course we can speak generally, and also set up a meeting to discuss personal questions.

Why is Back-to-School Important?

Why is back-to-school night important?

As a parent of a school-aged child, it’s important to attend Back-to-School Night because it’s you want to have an open dialogue with your student’s teacher. These events provide valuable opportunities to connect, learn about the curriculum and expectations for the school year, and gain insight into your child’s progress.

Attending Back-to-School Night also allows you to meet your child’s teacher and get a sense of their teaching style and personality. It also provides an opportunity to learn about the classroom environment, routines, and expectations. This information can help you support your child’s learning at home by reinforcing what they are learning in class.

What are Parent <> Teacher Conferences and How are They Different?

What are parent <> teacher conferences?

Parent <> Teacher conferences are private meetings between you and your student’s teacher(s). During these conferences, teachers can provide updates on your child’s academic progress, behavior, and social development. They can also share strategies for supporting your child’s learning at home.

It is helpful to take a notepad and pen along with any relevant documents such as report cards or test scores from previous years. These documents can provide valuable insights into your child’s strengths and weaknesses, which can guide discussions with teachers.

By attending Parent <> Teacher Conferences, you can gain a better understanding of your child’s strengths and areas for improvement. This information can help you work with your child at home to reinforce skills they are mastering, or provide additional support in areas where they may be struggling.

In addition to the benefits for parents, attending Back-to-School Night and Parent Teacher Conferences also demonstrates to your child that education is a priority in your family.

What is Open House & How is it Different from Back-to-School Night?

What is open house?

Back-to-School sets up the year but Open House helps prepare parents and students for the end of the year. Open house happens in the second semester.

You and your student should be familiar with the class, the teacher, and the expectations. Usually we discuss testing during Open House and strategies to help your student end the year strong.

What if You Cannot Attend Back-to-School Night?

What if you cannot attend?

Just to make sure we are clear, back-to-school night is an important time for you to connect with your student’s teachers and learn how to best support your student. However, please do not feel shamed for being unable to attend.

I have many students with parents who work late into the evening and cannot take time off work to attend back-to-school night. We understand.

Instead, I suggest sending an email to the teacher to connect. Many teachers will make time to speak with you individually. We also want to connect with you. Alternatively, you can send an aunt or friend, or someone who can attend in your stead.

Many teachers offer extra credit, and that credit extends to all forms of contact in my classroom.

Preparing for Back-to-School Night

Preparing for back-to-school night

Preparing for Back-to-School Night is crucial to ensure that you make the most out of these events. Start by familiarizing yourself with your child’s schedule, teacher’s name(s), and classroom location(s). Reframe Parenting has a great article on preparing for conferences.

This will help you navigate through the school premises easily and avoid getting lost on the day of the event.

Additionally, it is essential to have a list of questions ready to ask your child’s teacher during Back-to-School Night. I prepared a additional questions for you here:

  1. What is the curriculum for the year? Understanding what topics will be covered in each subject can help you support your child’s learning at home. It will also give you an idea of what skills your child will be learning throughout the year.
  2. How will my student’s work be evaluated?
  3. How can I communicate with you throughout the year?
  4. Will there be weekly or monthly updates?
  5. Are there any preferred methods of communication such as email or phone calls?
    Knowing this information can help you stay up-to-date on your child’s progress and address any concerns promptly.
  6. What you can do at home to support your child’s learning? Teachers may have suggestions for activities or resources that can reinforce classroom learning at home. By working together with teachers, parents can create a conducive environment for their children’s academic success.
  7. What is your approach to homework?
  8. What resources are available if my child needs extra help?
  9. How do you address behavioral issues in the classroom?

During & After Back-to-School Night

During and after back-to-school night

It’s important to establish a positive relationship with your child’s teacher during Back-to-School night (if possible). That way if/when you have concerns, you already have a rapport with them. After attending Back-to-School Night, it’s important to continue communication with your child’s teacher.

This can be done through email, phone calls, or in-person meetings. It’s also a good idea to ask your child about their day at school and any updates from their teacher. Ensure your contact information up-to-date.

By staying informed about what is happening in the classroom, you can better support your child’s learning at home.

In addition to communication, it’s important to take action on any concerns or issues that were discussed during these events. If your child is struggling in a particular subject, consider hiring a tutor or working with them at home. Our school has many services and after-school programs available to support students.

If there are behavioral issues, work with the teacher to come up with a plan for improvement.

Finally, remember that Back to School Night and Parent Teacher Conferences are just the beginning of the school year. It’s important to stay involved throughout the year by attending school events and volunteering when possible.

By building a strong relationship with your child’s teacher and staying informed about what is happening in the classroom, you can help ensure that your child has a successful school year.

Conclusion: Staying Abreast of Your Child’s Education

Staying abreast of your child's education.

Back-to-School Night is a crucial event for parents of school-aged children. By attending school events and asking questions, parents can gain valuable insights into their child’s education and build relationships with their teachers.

To make the most out of these events, it’s important to prepare ahead of time by researching the school and teacher, arriving early, and asking thoughtful questions. Afterward, continue communication with the teacher and take action on any concerns or issues that were discussed.

Your involvement shows that you value their education and care about their success in school. Even in middle school & high school, students notice.

By following these tips and staying involved throughout the year, parents can help support their child’s learning journey.

If you like this article, check out Back-to-School Anxiety and Tips for Navigating Middle School.

Valerie de la Rosa

I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

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