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Back to School Night: What Do Parents Get Out of It?

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

By Dr. Sueling Chen

Having just gone to my last Back to School Night as a parent (my youngest daughter is a high school senior at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton), I became nostalgic about all the “last” school events I would be attending this year.  Each event has had its own unique benefits, and I wanted to share what I’ve learned from one of the first events of each year:  Back to School Night.

I have noticed a large drop-off in parental participation in Back to School Night by my child’s high school senior year.  On one hand, I understand that parents have reached a certain comfort level with their child and his/her school — and that’s great news!  On the other hand, there are three things involving you and your child’s education, that I believe you can never get enough of:

1.  Communication – Enable meaningful connections between you and your child.

Back to School Night will give you a glimpse into what is happening with your child at school.  Parents can get a better understanding of the teacher’s rules, expectations, classroom curriculum, and methods of communication.  This can enhance your relationship with your child, because for example, you will be able to actively discuss potential “show-and-tell” items presented during “circle time.”

Even for parents whose child is returning to the same classroom, there will be a different curriculum, as the child enters a different life stage, holds a different role in the classroom, and has different expectations from his/her teacher.  Teachers have accumulated so much valuable information over the years to share with the parents. When you hear the curriculum more than one time, you will take it to the next level of understanding. For example, do you remember what your child’s teacher explained about how the older children lead?  Could you imagine how helpful your child is to other children? Do you realize your child is developing confidence and leadership in the classroom everyday? Parent’s Night is the time to soak in all the insights into your child’s future.

2.  Care – Show (don’t just tell) your child how important his/her education is.

Being involved in your child’s school life demonstrates how important his/her education is to you – no matter his/her age.  Letting your child know that you are in contact with his/her teacher also allows your child to feel more secure, resulting in better school performance. Sharing the same messages as your child’s teacher reinforces the lessons you want him/her to learn.  During a stage where your approval is so important to your child, your involvement from the beginning of each year emphasizes your desire to watch your child grow.

3.  Community – Create meaningful bonds that last a lifetime!

It has been said that, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  While the child-teacher-parent relationship remains central to your child’s education, it is the interaction within the entire school community that enables your child’s holistic development.  Attending school events is essential to becoming part of your child’s learning community, and can become one of you and your child’s best resources.

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