Remember preparing for Back-to-School night when you were a kid? You’d want to make sure the art project you felt most proud of was displayed, and that maybe that diorama you stayed up late to glue together would sit proudly on your desk for all to admire. The truth is, though, that it’s not just teachers and students who need to prepare for Back-to-School night—parents should be getting ready, too!
Follow these simple tips from Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald and you’ll be handling Back-to-School night like a boss.
- Start the conversation ahead of time
If you have a particular question or need for your child, don’t hesitate to reach out by email before the big night to open up a dialogue. These types of evenings often don’t happen until close to a month into the school year, so be sure to let any urgent concerns be known ahead of time.
- Mind the time
Not only will you need to arrive on time if you want to make the most of the evening, but you should also be very aware that your child’s teacher will be meeting with many parents and caretakers. That means they might not have a large amount of time to dedicate to speaking with you about an issue specific to your child.
- Mingle like you mean it
Don’t make it your mission to meet your child’s teacher and then leave. Instead, spend time getting to know the fellow parents in the room. Creating a mini social network for yourself will help you organize study dates for big assignments and also better understand what’s really going on in the classroom. For instance, later in the year, your girl might say she doesn’t have any homework, but if her friends’ moms have told you about a big science project coming up? You’ll be all the wiser and can fix the problem before it starts.
- Take notes
Studies show we remember things better when we’ve written them down by hand, so if there are any specific dates the teacher mentions or important expectations she has for her class, jot them down in a notebook so you won’t forget. Also good to get down (or put immediately into your phone), is an easy way for you to contact the teacher in case you have questions or concerns through the year. One other note that might be fun to take down? A sweet one that you can leave on your girl’s desk for her to find the next morning, telling her how much fun you had seeing her classroom!
- Report back
Tell your girl what you were excited to hear about during her Back-to-School night, and then find out what she’s excited about learning this school year. Talking about her teacher’s expectations and her school activities, in general, should be pretty routine in your family—so get that back-and-forth going right off the bat!
- Say thanks
Unless you’ve worked in a school, you might not realize that an awful lot of work goes into crafting a great Back-to-School experience for parents. Sending a simple, hand-written thank you note to her—telling her how much you appreciated her walking you through the new science curriculum, or mentioning how fun it was to bond over your favorite Dr. Seuss books—will be appreciated more than you know.