Do you have a plan for Open House/Back to School Night for the beginning of your school year?
Some teachers use a checklist to get set up. Others make sure to send parents a specific flyer or invitation letting them know about the event.
And even others might be doing a virtual open house that involves invites and information that is sent electronically before hand. On the night of the event, they might be “zooming” in from their classroom or even their own home.
Open House certainly does not look the same for everyone, but with the tips below, you can adapt your night to be the most successful and stress-free than ever!
Making ALL Parents Feel Welcome – Even When They Don’t Show Up
I realize that not all parents will typically show up for Open House Night at school and the reasons why can also vary greatly. Works schedules can sometimes get in the way, especially if it is a single parent household. It could also be a lack of communication from the school district as to when it is being held especially if the parent is not readily connected to technology.
Whether I have a packed classroom or a handful of families in the room, I still want to make sure that my students’ caregivers understand the expectations and policies for the school year.
This really helps to let them know how your policies work – and there is little room for discussion when a situation arises later.
Plus, I personally like to give something for those families to take home that doesn’t involve connecting to a network, giving me their cell phone numbers or emails, or donating a pint of blood. Haha.
I even have an extra copy sitting in my file on the desk just in case I ever need it.
Creating Your Own Classroom Parent Handbook for Open House Night
I make sure to place a Classroom Parent Handbook on every desk before Open House starts. This also helps me in seeing very quickly at the end of the time who was not present so I can send the Handbook home with the student on their first day of school.
Here are the contents of my Classroom Parent Handbook. Of course, some of the information within is not accurate, but I think you’ll get the gist from looking through the sample pages.
After the cover page, I like to include some personal information about myself. Parents, in particular, appreciate knowing you are a regular person like them and having some personal information (without giving them your address or social security number) is great for creating that first bond.
Next up: the Classroom Schedule page.
You could even include specific times for arrival, tardy bells, and such.
I always think it’s nice when parents see this list and are trying to choose upcoming doctor’s appointment times, they just might take a look and choose a time closer to the end of the day or the beginning, depending on what the academic learning schedule looks like. Or maybe that’s just me when I’m making the choices for my own children. lol.
It’s great to have a Fun Stuff page that lets parents know the birthday treats policy, snacks, water bottles, etc. All those little things are addressed in the document, so you don’t need to answer those emails later down the road.
Of course Curriculum should be mentioned.
While the parent might not care what textbook company you use, they most likely WILL care how often their child has a spelling test…
…or what the grading scale looks like.
An extra page for Other Academics which may not be covered in the last 2 pages.
Kids also get really excited when they know ahead of time they are learning something they might look forward to, such as specific computer games or even cursive handwriting.
You can’t have a Parent Handbook without including the super important Homework policy page. On my page, I also included a little tip about how we will be communicating daily via an agenda book. Your policies may be different, but you can adapt your Handbook to match your specific routines.
Parent Involvement page!
This page is wonderful if you are looking for parent helpers too. You could even include a list of ongoing things you might need help with in the classroom – or even things parents can do at home wot help out, such as cutting, glueing, or stapling items and sending them back when finished.
If you have standardized testing or even benchmark testing, you could include a little about that process, when it is, and maybe how to best prepare their child for those days.
Another VIP: Very Important Page – Behavior Expectations.
You want to make sure you expectations and consequences are there in black and white so there is truly no question later about how your classroom rules work. This one page has seen me through some very trying times.
Last up is a finishing page where you can include your contact information again and a little message.
I usually print the handbook one-sided just so it’s easier to flip through and read, but depending on your paper usage allowance you might want to print double-sided.
If printing in color isn’t an option, they print great in grayscale as well.
Finally I thrive hole punch and pop into the brads of a plain folder or report cover and place on student desks.
What do you DO on Open House Night?
This is one of the best things for me: I actually create a quick Power Point presentation using these same document templates and put it on loop in the classroom.
Parents can then come in at their leisure during the time frame, find their child’s desk, take a look at the slideshow, and grab their Handbook and any other documents I might have for them before they leave.
While they are streaming in and out of the room, I am able to float and meet everyone individually which is the best part!
No timed presentations that start before everyone arrives. No worries about parents who might need to be in 2 different classrooms at once having multiple children in the building.
Instead, just a light and breezy evening of getting to meet my new families with no stress attached.
Open house really is an enjoyable evening for me and I hope for the students’ families who attend.
For those families that cannot be in attendance, at the end of the night I make sure to pack up the items on the student desks and label them with their name to be given to take home on the first day of school.
However I would normally contact the caregiver, whether that is a note in the agenda book or an email, etc., I let them know the Parent Handbook that was given out at Open House is in their child’s things for them to review and let me know if they have any additional questions.
That way, the caregiver gets the same information and does not feel as though they are “penalized” for not being able to make the school event on that particular evening.
Do you do something similar? We would love to hear about your ideas in the comments below too!