By Stephanie A., Master Tutor
A school year comes with its annual rituals: buying new shoes and school
supplies; easing the little ones’ anxieties and our own; getting the kids to bed on
time–and more importantly, getting them out of bed in the morning on time to get
ready for school. Back-to-school night certainly fits into that pantheon of autumn
Scheduled usually a few weeks after school opens, back-to-school night gives
parents an opportunity to finally meet the individuals they’ve heard so much
about–or not heard anything about–during the previous weeks. Teachers,
naturally, are just as eager to meet the parents of the children they have begun
to know. So, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you head into your children’s
Arrive on time. Walking in late, in the middle of a teacher’s presentation, can be
disruptive to the teacher and to rest of the parents who are already there.
Besides, getting to the classroom early will guarantee you a seat: remember, if all
the parents show up, only half of them can sit down. In addition, one of the best
ways to get to know what it feels like to spend time in the room where your
children learn is to spend time in that room. Walk around. Look at what’s on the
bulletin boards, in the bookcases, on display. Talk to some of the other parents.
The teacher is there to address the entire “class,” so this is not the night to try to
monopolize the teacher’s attention with your concerns about your child. If you do
need some one-on-one time with the teacher, approach her or him and ask when
is a good time to get in contact.
Teachers prepare earnestly for this night and they too can be a little nervous;
let’s face it, when they’re teaching, it’s rare that every single one of their students
is paying 100 percent attention to what she or he is saying. On this night, all ears
and eyes are on the teacher and that can be intimidating for anyone. When the
time is right during the evening, introduce yourself and, if you have something
positive to share with the teacher, share it. Ask a question about the class, not
just your child. If the teacher approaches you while you’re looking around, share
what you know or want to know about what you are looking at. A teacher loves
to hear about the interest both the parents and the students have had in a
particular project. By having these conversations, you are not only
demonstrating your own investment in your child’s schoolwork, you may also be
sharing an insight the teacher may be glad to learn.
It’s extremely rare to hear that a back-to-school night experience has been less
than positive, so it’s a nice gesture to thank the teacher as you leave, but keep in
mind that you and the teacher have to get up early the next morning to do the
valuable work of getting our children educated.