How to host a smooth back to school night for families
Back To School Night is one of my favorite days of the back to school season. Everyone is excited to be there- teachers, principals, students, parents. It helps the students and parents to feel better about the school year when they meet their teacher, drop off supplies, see their classroom and desk, etc. However, Back To School Night always seems to be on the same day that is our convocation, which is super early and then we have meetings all day and then Back To School Night at night. I never feel ready. It took me many years to create a system that works for me and I’m happy to share it with your today!
Create a smooth system
Creating a smooth system for parents to follow is key. You will be busy meeting a whole bunch of different families, possibly all at the same time. You will be comforting families, showing families different areas of the room, explaining bus procedures, writing down allergies, writing reminders that so-and-so rides this bus on Wednesdays instead of being a car rider, etc. So, I have signs that I place around the room for them to follow. This gives them directions of what to do when they walk in, just in case I am not there to help right away. You can find the stations here or click any of the photos below. Here are the stations I use in my classroom and are also included in the pack (you can also edit the stations in the pack to meet your needs):
- How does your child get home?
- Would you like to volunteer?
- Find your child’s desk.
- Please put supplies in the appropriate bins.
- Put your folders and supply box in your cubby.
- Put your binder in a basket.
Use Ziploc baggies
For papers that do no need to be filled out right away, put them in ziploc baggies for families to fill out later at home and return to school later. Having loose papers to keep track of in the midst of the chaos of school supplies can be very stressful for parents, on top of keeping track of their children. Minimize the stress and keep it altogether for them. Most of the time, students will bring back the papers in the ziploc bag which makes it easier for me to keep track of on the first day of school when I’m handed things left and right. The form you see is from my Back To School Night pack. You can find the QR tag here.
Leave a treat for your new students
Giving your new students treats is not a necessity. It is just something extra that I like to do. I give them a donut lollipop like the one pictured above. You can find them here. I used those brochures one year too and my families loved it. I got them from Katie at Simply Creative Teaching here.
Label supply bins
Make sure to label each supply bin so families know where to put their school supplies, if they brought them to Back To School Night. This will help you too because you can leave the label on the bin all year and just keep the supplies in there. Then, you’ll have your bins ready for the following year too!
Have a donation center
Make a donation center on your whiteboard or bulletin board so that if families want to donate something to your classroom, they can. They may not be able to donate something right away, but they will know what your classroom may need. I’m talking about the things that aren’t on your supply list, but things that you will use- like construction paper, highlighters, etc.
Read your students a bedtime story
You can easily read your students a bedtime story to make them feel more at ease about the first day! It is very simple and won’t take you much time to prep at all. All you need is your phone, computer, and wifi to do so. You can follow my directions here. I make a video of me reading “The Night Before First Grade” and upload it to YouTube. From there, I make a QR code and copy it on a tag. Then, I staple the tag to the ziploc bag that has all the papers in it. Then, it can’t get lost with all the other papers they take home.
One More Idea
In the past, I’ve taken a family picture of the students with their families on Back To School Night. I would hang those up before the first day of school on a family bulletin board in our classroom. The first day of school can be hard and students miss their families since they’ve been with them all summer. This way, if they miss them they can go look at the bulletin board at their picture. This creates a warm classroom and your students can also talk about their family members to their peers.