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6 Tips for Making Your Back-to-School Night a Success

5 min read
Aug 2, 2023 8:00:00 AM

Here are six tips for increasing family participation and engagement in your back-to-school night.

Many schools like to start the new school year off with a back-to-school night (or curriculum night), a type of open house where teachers give presentations about the things they’ll cover over the year, how they’ll teach these lessons, and what they’ll expect of their students. It’s a wonderful way to connect your parents with the educational pursuits of their children.

Your back-to-school night also offers you an opportunity to showcase your school to your parents and set up a partnership that can last the entire year. Traditionally, these back-to-school night activities are focused entirely on the academic aspects of the school year.

But they can be so much more than that.

For starters, many families have a parent who rarely makes it to school because of their work hours or other conflicts. Back-to-school night can be one of the few times a year this parent is in the school, making it a great time to engage them in both their child’s education and the school community as well.

Additionally, giving parents a deeper understanding of your approach to the upcoming school year has the added benefit of providing them with information they can share with friends and acquaintances about why your school is so great.

But on a grander scale, back-to-school night provides an opportunity to foster connections between parents and your teachers — with your school as the centerpiece of that relationship.

To make your back-to-school event a success, here’s a handy checklist.

1. Make Sure New Parents Know About Back-to-School Night

The start of a new school year is a hectic time for everyone:

  • Teachers are working hard to get to know their kids and to get the year off to a good start.
  • Parents are adjusting to new rhythms and fighting the battles of bedtime, homework, clubs and sports, and getting kids out the door every morning.
  • And you? Well, you’re always busy. You haven’t stopped since the previous school year ended in May/June.

With everyone overtaxed by the realities of a new school year, it’s easy to under-communicate events like back-to-school night. But if you want it to be a success, to really build community, your parents need to be there. The more parents you get there, the quicker and better you can build the school community you want.

But they can’t do that if they don’t know it’s happening.

Make sure back-to-school events are on your calendar, your website, and your social media channels. Send home reminders. Use an automated calling system to alert them the day before. Make sure kids know to tell their parents.

Also, consider a customer relationship management (CRM) system like SchoolMint Connect, which can help you manage attendance and automate email communication for your back-to-school events.

SchoolMint Connect will help you engage with families who attend your events and easily follow up with them — as well as families who couldn’t attend.

2. Make It Easy to Attend

One of the biggest hurdles for back-to-school night for parents is what to do with their kids.

Make it easy for your parents to attend by inviting them to bring their children along with the assurance that you’ll have activities to keep them occupied while the event is happening. For example, extend your after-school or extended daycare program, provide an open gym, or arrange for a movie night with snacks.

By giving the parents a safe place to drop the kids, a place where the kids can have some fun, you’ve made the evening a stress-free success.Subscribe to the schoolmint blog ad

3. Schedule the Whole School on the Same Night

If you’re looking to do more with your back-to-school night than just disseminate curriculum information, it’s important you schedule the entire school to attend on the same night.

Because of the specific needs of new parents or the differences in schedule and approach for pre-K and kindergarten education programs, some schools hold more than one event. For community-building purposes, this is a mistake.

To truly build a community, there needs to be a view of the school as a whole and not as two, three, or four separate schools operating under one roof.

More importantly, your new parents and pre-K and kindergarten parents are the two groups you most want to connect with at the beginning of the year so that they feel welcome.

By putting them on their own back-to-school night, you start the year off telling them that they aren’t included in the other kids’ reindeer games — and that doesn’t even touch on the hassle of forcing a parent with a kindergartener and a third-grader to attend two different back-to-school nights.

4. Add a Social Aspect

Having everyone show up on the same night is not enough to magically transform your back-to-school night into a community-building event.

You need to add a social aspect to the evening, ideally something where parents are encouraged to socialize after they’re done meeting the teachers.

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Have your parent organization sponsor a wine and beer garden, an ice cream social, or something similar where parents can get together and talk. Make it a free event for the parents, and let teachers go home after their classroom time.

The classroom presentations were enough time to let parents ask questions. This part of the evening is just for parents to have fun and to go into the new school year with familiar faces.

5. Provide Information, But Don’t Solicit

This isn’t to say you can’t use back-to-school night to provide parents with information about extra-curricular activities, groups, and organizations.

In fact, it’s the ideal time to set up some information tables where parents can learn about different ways they can volunteer and help out around the school. Parental involvement is crucial and a great way to strengthen the bonds being built here.

man at table showing informational packets and papers to woman

One caveat, however: back-to-school night is supposed to be fun and relaxed.

Provide information, but refrain from asking for sign-ups or participation. Let everyone enjoy the evening and leave with the feeling that their participation is desired and their presence is welcome and valued but not required.

6. Formal, Organized Curriculum — Informal, Carefree Social Time

Finally, plan the different parts of back-to-school night to be what they are.

The back-to-school night is, above all else, a sharing of valuable information. Make it formal and organized. Enable your parents to meet with whichever teachers they need to meet with as little stress and confusion is possible. Parents and teachers both will appreciate this.

But when it comes to the social part of the evening, take the opposite approach. Make it easy, informal, and carefree. Don’t grab the mic and make a welcoming speech. This time isn’t for that. This time is for fun, relaxation, and catching up with one another.

Draw a clear line between the two parts of your evening, and both parts will be successful.

To learn more about how SchoolMint Connect can help you boost the success of your events (and not just the back-to-school ones), get in touch with us and see the platform in action for yourself.

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