If Back-to-School Night, that evening early in the school year when you're invited to walk through your child's schedule and meet the teachers, doesn't draw you in, you're not alone -- fewer and fewer parents are making attending a priority. But that's actually a pretty good reason why you should get yourself there; if all those other slacker parents stay home, you may be treated to a one-on-one meeting with your child's teacher. Here are 10 more reasons why BTS Night is where it's at:
1. You can walk in your child's footsteps.Seeing firsthand whether your child's classrooms are as spread out and strenuous to get to as all of that can help you deal appropriately with your child's complaints -- devising shortcuts and strategies if transit really is a problem, and withholding sympathy if it's not.
2. You can meet the teachers, all at once.What might take a series of afternoon conferences can be accomplished in one snappy evening, as you proceed from classroom to classroom, homeroom to special, gym to cafeteria, and get a good look at the people who will be teaching your child this year.
3. You'll get a look at the support staff, too.If your child is supposed to have an inclusion teacher, instructional aide, or one-on-one aide, look for those folks in the classroom at Back-to-School Night. This may be your best chance to learn their names and their functions, and make sure they're on the job.
4. It's your first chance to spot problems.The teacher who makes a big point of saying he doesn't put up with any nonsense. The instructor who admits she doesn't hear so well. The aide who's constantly chattering during the presentation. The inclusion teacher who speaks so forthrightly the regular education teacher looks daggers at her. You know what sorts of situations are going to cause problems for your child, and even though Back-to-School Night is a best-foot-forward endeavor, you can see the seams showing if you look hard enough.
5. Someone will make big promises about your child's education.When all you go to is special-ed meetings, you're used to hearing "We're not promising what's best, just what's appropriate." So it can be instructive to hear what's said at a regular-ed event like BTS Night. Do administrators stand before this assemblage of parents and taxpayers and promise to do the bare minimum of what's appropriate, or to provide a superlative education for every student who puts in the effort? If it's the latter, take note. Your kid's a member of that student body, too.
6. You can keep an eye out for allies.You're not likely to get a class list home -- at least not one with full names and phone numbers -- so this is your best chance to glance around the room, see if there are any familiar parents, and take down some contact information for emergency homework situations.
7. The teacher wants to know how to reach you.You're not the only one looking for contact information. Teachers may take this opportunity to get your e-mail address for easier communication, or to hand out theirs. Don't miss the opportunity to give and get that information.
8. Supplies are on sale.Schools often sell things like gym clothes, school T-shirts, and other goodies at Back-to-School Nights. Which do you suppose is easier, picking this stuff up yourself or trusting your child to bring the order forms home and get your check in the right hands?
9. There might be cake.
Speaking of other goodies, there's usually free coffee and homemade baked
goods at these things. Calories don't count when you're doing something good for your child's education, you know.
10. It's a chance to feel superior to other parents. Why would you let that go by?
You may be amazed at how few people actually show up for this night of nights. And how many parents and teachers cluck at how few parents actually show up at these things, and how very dedicated the ones who do must be. Get yourself a piece of that!