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Updated: Aug 29, 2023

“Brandon, where’s you book bag?”

“It’s on the kitchen table, mom.”

“Bring it to me right now!”

“Oh mom, it’s a new school year. You don't have to check my book bag. My homework is already finished!”

“That’s fine, I still want your book bag. Last year, I didn’t see all of the school notices and I don’t plan to miss this year’s back to school night, progress reports, teacher notes. or anything else. Even though everything is on the school’s website, you know our internet goes down sometimes. Not to mention when my smart phone starts acting stupid! So, just get used to it. I’ll be checking your book bag whenever I feel like it.”

Does this conversation sound familiar?

When my children were in school, there were times that I missed dates, activities and school meetings. It wasn't that I didn't trust my children to show me the notices, I also wanted to stay on top of things. The years that I was a classroom teacher creating and implementing engaging lesson plans and marking papers by day (and often at night) while managing the activities of my two sons was exciting, rewarding, challenging and sometimes exhausting. Especially the year that I was teaching 4th grade and my oldest was actually in the 4th grade! (In another school!)

Back to School Night was a big deal! After the principal’s introduction to all parents in the auditorium, parents excitedly travel to the classrooms. During my years as a classroom teacher, I used the Back to School Night experience to foster parent-teacher relationships. I understood the importance of collaborating with my sons’ teachers and how the quality of our collaboration would have a positive impact on my sons' educational/social growth and development.

Here are a few tips for any parent to make the most of Back to School Night.

1. Be prepared to hear an overview of the teacher’s expectations, daily schedule, curriculum, and classroom rituals. Examine your child’s textbooks, classroom library, technology and digital lessons. Remember: Your child’s learning tools and how they use them are essential to your child’s success.

2. Actively listen, ask questions and take notes about the teacher’s presentation. Remember: This is not the time for in specific in-depth discussions about your child. Request an individual parent teacher conference about your child. Don’t wait until the middle of the marking period to receive your child's progress report. You want to know what your child does well and what challenges they may have.

3. Observe the total classroom environment and look for examples of student work, bulletin boards, learning stations, seating arrangements etc. This is where your child spends the majority of their day. It should be an inviting place where learners can soar. Just remember that it’s still early in the school year and the teacher may post students' work in progress.In other words, work that shows the process of learning. If work is not posted, ask the teacher if there are examples of your child's work.

4. Before your leave the BTSN, consider writing an encouraging note to your child; let them know you expect great things from them this school year. Tell them how proud you are of them and will do your part to help them be happy and successful. They will be delighted to read it the next morning when they arrive at school.

Remember: Children thrive on love and positive encouragement.

5. After the BTSNBe sure to get the teacher’s contact information to keep the lines of communication open. Here are a few areas to check with the teacher: If your child had challenges in the previous grade, contact the teacher on a weekly basis to ensure your child is making progress. If your child excelled in the previous grade, keep in touch with the teacher to ensure your child continues to soar. If your child seems bored, disinterested, troubled or out of sorts, contact the teacher to see if they exhibit any of these behaviors in the classroom. Remember: Students do better in school when parents and teachers work together. When you are engaged and show interest in your child's learning. Your child’s teacher is the always the point of contact if you have concerns.Make every effort to connect with them before reaching out to the principal.


Remember: If you have concerns about anything and don’t have time to ask the teacher during BTSN, it is perfectly fine to write a note or send an email the next day.

“There is a brilliant child locked inside every student.”

Marva Collins

Please let me know if this helped. I hope you feel empowered to attend your child's BTSN.

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