I vividly remember back-to-school time as kid. What will I wear on the first day of school? Will my friends be in my class? Will I like my teacher? For parents, this time is marked by getting back into school night routines and pushing carts up and down the aisles of Wal-Marts and Targets.
In the midst of this frenzied time, most schools host a back-to-school or meet-the-teacher night. This event is a great opportunity to kick-off a year of open communication and mutual support with your child’s teacher.
Here are three ways to make the most of the event:
1. Share contact information
Ask your child’s teacher for the best way to contact them – is it email, text or a phone call? Ask the teacher what the best time of day is to contact them. Most teachers have a planning period during the school day, and many teachers are happy to take phone calls after school (but not too late in the evening). Put the teacher’s contact information in your phone while you are still in the classroom. Share your contact information and the best way and times for the teacher to contact you. As a teacher, I’ve had many success stories of how a parent and I have worked closely together to improve a child’s grades and/or behaviors. This has always involved regular communication via text, phone or email.
2. Ask what your child will study in the first quarter
Many a parent has been frustrated by the following scenario: You pick your child up from school. You ask, “What did you learn at school today?” The child answers, “Nothing” or “I don’t remember.” You sigh and this potentially awesome conversation is Dead On Arrival.
At back-to-school night, ask your child’s teacher what kids will be studying in the first couple months of school. If it’s a reading class, what books or genres will the kids read? If it’s a math or science class, what concepts will they be studying? This knowledge will equip you to ask your child more specific questions such as, “Tell me about what a fraction is,” or “What are the names of the characters in the narrative story you are writing?”
3. Bring supplies from the supply list
A shameless plug in the interest of teacher sanity: If at all possible, please bring school supplies to the back-to-school night event instead of sending them with your child on the first day of school. It is so much easier to sort supplies in the days before school starts than it is to sort them with 25 excited children under your wing.
Additionally, this is a perfect time to ask any questions you may have about the supply list. Those things can sometimes be maddening, and it’s much better to get clarity from the teacher than it is to rack your brain staring at 52 different types of binders at Target.
I wish all kids, families and teachers a wonderful school year!