My knees are scrunched up tight under the desk. It’s increasingly uncomfortable to sit in the blue hard plastic chair that is about six inches too low for me. I’m straining to see the presentation on the board.
It’s super awkward and weird to be in a room with approximately 40 adults at night, all sitting in various stages of discomfort in teeny tiny chairs.
This is Back to School Night. And it’s one of the best ways to get insight into your child’s school year.
If you have kids in elementary school, you’ll understand the pain of squishing your grown-up sized body into chairs built for the 5 to 11 set. Once you get past the pain, you’ll get a whole new understanding of what your child is experiencing daily.
Grab a FREE Back-to-School Night note taking worksheet so that you can stay on track!
Take a good look around. This isn’t the prettied up classroom of Meet the Teacher. Oh no, this is a classroom that’s experienced a full day’s worth of learning.
Before you maneuver your way into the small seat, take a walk around the room. Check out the different learning areas, peruse the library, look at the ways the teacher has organized materials, and then find your child’s seat.
At the seat, take a peek at the names nearby. If you see familiar friends, great! If not, introduce yourself to their parents. It pays big to build a parent network! Just think, you’ll always have someone to call or email when your kid forgets the homework.
A person’s desk says a lot about them. Mine, right now, says “busy mom of two kids who needed a place to dump this nonsense.” It’s cluttered and kind of crazy. I also never work there. I’m actually working at the dining room table because I can spread out my stuff. Strange, but true!
Peek into your child’s desk. Is it neat and tidy? Messy and cluttered? Stuff literally spilling onto the floor? Think about your child in other areas of their life. Do they often misplace things? Lose schoolwork? Have missing assignments?
What you see in their desk might give you some clues about why (and where) those worksheets went missing.
Chances are that your child’s teacher has a lovely presentation ready to share with you. Perfect! This is a great chance to test drive the classroom experience from your child’s perspective.
As you listen to the teacher, think about:
- visuals: can you see the board/screen from your seat?
- audio: can you hear the teacher?
- comfort: do you need to twist your body in weird ways to see things?
- social: would your child be distracted by friends or frenemies nearby?
- fidget: would your child be distracted by their desk situation?
You also have the unique opportunity to really understand how the teacher operates. Keep in mind, however, that the professional in front of you has just spent the whole day wrangling young children. The teacher is also probably a little nervous. Afterall, she spends her days with children, not adults. And those shoes are probably a little uncomfortable. She has dressed up for the occasion even though she is so tired she could drop.
As you look and listen, you are watching a pro in action. The way that this presentation is organized gives you insight into the teacher’s style with children, too. A teacher who is animated, funny, and personable with a room full of grown-ups is probably the same way during school hours. Seeing an organized presentation that flows nicely? You can bet that your child’s lessons are getting the same treatment.
Back to School Night is the best chance for the teacher to explain how the classroom works. You’ll hear all about homework, grading style, curriculum, teacher beliefs, and behavior expectations.
It’s a lot.
But you will leave with a better idea about the expectations and goals for this year. These are tools that you can use to motivate your child to learn and progress. Knowing how the classroom operates can help you to build a better team with your child’s teacher.
Back to School Night is a great chance to ask questions. If you need ideas, check out Talk to the Teacher. There are dozens of talking points and starter questions that you can use. Bringing questions with you makes it easier to understand the classroom and expectations. The more you know, the better you can help your child succeed!
Some basics to get you started could include:
- How often is homework assigned?
- About how long should my child spend on homework each night?
- How can I volunteer in the classroom?
- What are ways I can help my child at home?
- Is there an online classroom or website to check grades or find out about assignments?
Leave a Note
Before you leave the room, take a minute to leave a sweet note for your child. The teacher has probably even left you a pencil and paper!
In your note, stay positive. Write about your excitement for the new school year, tell how much you like the teacher, compliment their desk (or offer pointers to keep it neat), and say how proud you are of your child.
Grab a FREE Back-to-School Night note taking sheet. Just click the picture!
Back to School Night helps parents understand the inner workings of the classroom. How do you make the most of Back to School Night?