So you’ve made it through the start of the school year—the excitement, the anxiety, the shock of the alarm clock. Now that you are into the back-to-school routine, it’s time for that all-important Back-to-School (or Meet the Teacher) night. This is your opportunity to establish a relationship with your child’s teacher and to find out the atmosphere where your child will be learning for the next nine months.My brother is an elementary school principal and my mother, sister-in-law, and three best friends are all well-seasoned teachers. They are all gearing up for this night and I have asked them to give me some dos and don’ts for parents from their years of educational and back-to-school night experiences. Not surprisingly, many of their dos and don’ts overlapped.
Here is the list they all agreed upon.
DO find out if kids are allowed. This varies depending on the school district. Some schools prefer to keep this as a kid-free event, so the parents can focus on meeting the teacher without distraction. Other districts welcome students and their siblings, believing that this is a time for parent, student, and teacher to get to know each other.
DON’T miss it. We all know life can be hectic, especially at the beginning of the school year, but this is a very important night for you and your child. Do everything in your power to clear your schedule. If you simply cannot make it under any circumstances, be sure to follow up with fellow parents and the teacher to catch up on the information.
DO take notes. The teacher will most likely be giving you handouts with information for the year. Many teachers will also give PowerPoint presentations, which include information that you’ll want to write down, such as: homework policies, important phone numbers, and special dates.
Read Related: How Your Kids Can Show Teacher Appreciation
DON’T take your cell phone. This is not the time to be texting, answering emails, or taking phone calls. Turn off the phone and tune into your priority—your child’s education. If you must take your phone, leave it in your purse with the ringer off!
DO volunteer. This is the time when you can sign up to be an assistant for field trips, class projects, bake sales, or special school events. Be sure to sign up for at least one opportunity—your child and his or her teacher will appreciate it!
DON’T overextend yourself. It is easy to get excited at the beginning of the year and want to volunteer at every possible function. But remember that your schedule will fill up pretty quickly and you may regret over-committing yourself (sound familiar mamis?). And don’t worry, there are plenty of other parents who want to help out too. Share the love!
DO ask questions. The whole purpose of back-to-school night is to establish an open line of communication between parent and teacher. Take advantage.
DON’T get too specific with your questions. Recognize that time is limited and it is best to ask valuable, pertinent questions that address all parents concerns (see below). Save questions that are specific to your child for parent-teacher conferences.
Back-to-School Questions that Teachers Love to Answer:
- How can you check on your child’s progress?
- What is the homework policy?
- Grading policy?
- Attendance policy?
- Is it permissible to call or email the teacher?
- Will there be field trips? If so, when and where to?
- How can you help your child at home?
- How can you help out in the classroom?