Need some help planning for and holding an informative, stress-free event for families? We put together some tips and tricks for making parents feel welcome, handling small children who attend and creating an engaging and memorable presentation.
Understand that this event is to provide a time for parents to meet the teacher and review expectations. It is not a time for individual conferences. The event is usually held in the early evening and lasts between 30 and 90 minutes. Know that the Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms typically have the best turnout and parents give priority to visiting younger children’s classroom before going to older children’s classroom.
What do parents want from this event?
Parents are looking for three things:
- A clean and organized classroom that their child takes ownership of
- A warm, friendly, welcoming teacher
- An informal, easy-to-understand presentation that provides a good sense of what the year will be like
Organize and Prepare
Before the event, consider how you would like to communicate to parents the information you need, forms to be filled out, etc. Also have paper, crayons, pencils available for younger children who may attend the event as well.
Things to communicate:
- Forms to be completed
- Volunteer opportunities
- Space for donating extra supplies
- Classroom wish list
Collect parent information
Have a sign-in sheet that includes the parent’s name, child’s name and daytime phone number. Make notes in the margin to yourself afterward so you can remember the parent at conference time.
Connect and communicate
First impressions are important and making a personal connection with each family will help. Try to say something specific and positive to each parent as you meet.
You can’t fit it all into one presentation but aim to share expectations, policies, procedures. Start things off by sharing a little about yourself and an overview of the most exciting things you have planned for the year. This will get parents enthusiastic about what’s happening in the classroom. Walk the parents through a typical day so they are introduced to the way their children will be learning. Provide information on standardized tests in a handout that can be read later and only spend 1-2 minutes on the topic.
Outline your approach to behavior management and class rules and explain your methods of communication (newsletters, email lists, class webpage, daily agendas, and so on). Finally, briefly explain the procedures for parent volunteers. Thank them for coming out and urge them to call, email, etc.; anytime they have a question or concern.
Fun ways to make the back-to-school night special
Scavenger hunt: Families can complete this activity while they wait for you to begin the presentation, and/or afterward while they wait to talk to you. It gives them a purpose for walking around the room.
Fun survey: Create a “How well do you know me” survey that the parents can complete any time during the evening. Let the children grade it the next day. Be sure to have something enjoyable for those children whose parents couldn’t attend the event, so they are not left out.
Shared journal entry: Have each child in the class write on a topic such as “The Hardest Part/Best Part of Being a Kid.” The child then titles the page across, “The Hardest Part/Best Part of Being a Parent.” The families complete the journal entry at the event and children read them in the morning.