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5 Reasons Why You Should Attend Back-to-School Night

If your child recently started school, most likely Back to School Night is approaching. Back to School Night is the official “meet and greet” — the time and place when teachers explain their policies and procedures and their expectations for the year. It’s also a parent’s opportunity to ask questions about the general classroom, not about your specific child.

LAUSD classroom
This is a typical classroom at an LAUSD elementary school, photo taken by Wendy Kennar

I encourage all parents to make every effort to attend.  Specifically, there are five benefits to attending Back to School Night.

  1. See the classroom.  It seems obvious, but we sometimes forget that our children are spending a considerable portion of their day in this room. What does it look like? Sound like? What do you notice? What is hanging on the walls? Get a feel for the environment that the teacher has prepared for your child.
  2. Hear it from the source.  By the time our kids get home and relay information to us, something may have gotten lost in translation. Children don’t generally intend to misinterpret or emit information, but it does happen. Hear it from the teacher, find out how long recess lasts and the rules regarding bathroom usage during class time.
  3. Network.  Meet other parents, and meet the parents of your child’s friends. Just like our kids, it does help to have a buddy; someone we can call with a question about the project due on Monday or to ask when the holiday concert is scheduled.
  4. Advocate for your child.  You know your child better than anyone. Sit in your child’s seat and see the classroom from his perspective. Now use that information to make sure your child is sitting in an optimal spot. Is he sitting near a door or window? The pencil sharpener or air conditioner? Will that be a distraction?
  5. Respect.  Attending Back to School Night shows you respect your child’s teacher, value your child’s education, and put school at the top of the priority list. Having said that, after a twelve year teaching career, I know it’s not possible for all parents to attend. After all, many teachers are parents too, and are inevitably missing their own child’s Back to School Night. So if you can’t attend, send a note and explain your absence. Then, ask to visit with your child’s teacher at an alternate day and time. And when you meet, ask for any pamphlets or literature that was distributed at the official Back to School Night. Let your child’s teacher know you’re all on the same team and you’re there to make sure your child has a great school year!

Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

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This post was first published in 2014.

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