By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Most school districts invite parents to school in the fall to meet their child’s teacher and see the classroom. This open house is a good opportunity to learn about your child’s program and the teacher’s expectations. It is a chance to see where he spends most of his day and how he spends his time.
As with parent-teacher conferences, attendance at these meetings demonstrates to your child your seriousness about school. Try to arrange your schedule so that both you and your spouse can attend. As you enter the class, you will probably be asked to sit at your child’s desk where you may find a note from him. Write a note back to him with some positive comments about the class.
The purpose of back-to-school night differs from that of the parent-teacher conference. While the conference is intended to be a discussion of your child’s individual performance, back to school night is designed to offer you information about the teacher’s goals, methods of instruction, expectations, and routines. Feel free to ask questions but stick to program and classroom issues. You may want to inquire of the homework and test routine, amount of time your child should be spending on homework, procedures for absences, early dismissal policies, disciplinary methods, and curriculum.
This is not the time to talk about your child. If you have concerns specific to your child, arrange a meeting with the teacher at another time or speak with her on the phone. At the end of the evening, consider going up to the teacher to introduce yourself and offer some kind words. Small rapport-building gestures such as this can help solidify the parent-teacher connection.