Bright Ideas for Back-to-School Night ... and Beyond
It's time to head back to school. And while kids are stuffing their backpacks with new school supplies, we're packing a different sort of bag here at Reading Rockets — one filled with resources to help make one of the most important evening events of the school year really sparkle — back-to-school night.
Typically, back-to-school night is big event on the school calendar. This opportunity for parents and teachers to meet and connect deserves special attention. We've gathered ideas and materials to help plan the evening, ideas to encourage attendance and participation, resources to share with parents, as well as materials to help parents make the most of back-to-school night and set the tone for a successful school year.
For teachers: planning your back-to-school night
Tips to make your back-to-school night a success
Set the tone for your entire year with the parents of your new students — and open the door to trust and cooperation. Teacher's Network presents tips on how to prepare, what to put on the desks, and what a good presentation looks like.
What your child will learn
Create a one-page summary of what your students will learn this year in class, so parents have an overall picture of the school year and how everything fits into the standards. Remind parents to read and learn with their children every day to build literacy and background knowledge skills!
Meet our class
Represent the diversity of your school's ELL population and create a memorable back-to-school night display.
Back-to-school welcome flyer
Download this ready-to-print welcome flyer from Reading Rockets. Each child can fill in their favorite book titles and things they like to read about. Perfect for desktops or bulletin boards to welcome families to the classroom.
In preparation for back-to-school night, have students design original name tags for their parents, or use these name tags from children's author Jan Brett.
For teachers: beyond back-to-school night
Parents in the picture
Build partnerships with your students' parents that last beyond back-to-school night. In this article from the American Federation of Teachers, learn the essentials of effective communication to strengthen the school-family partnership.
Attendance: every school day matters
Everybody plays a role in ensuring children attend school regularly. Attendance Awareness Month is a nationwide event in September recognizing the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. The goal is to mobilize schools and communities not only to promote the value of good attendance but also to take concrete steps toward reducing chronic absence. Visit Attendance Works for community resources, including the Attendance Awareness Month Toolkit.
Back to school is for dads, too
Children do better in school when their fathers are involved. Here are some back-to-school tips for dads written by fathers themselves. The National PTA has a program called MORE: Men Organized to Raise Engagement, dedicated to strengthening the relationship betwen kids and the important men in their lives. A critical part of this program is connecting fathers with schools.
Back to school for principals and school administrators
Dig into these back-to-school tips and resources on a wide range of topics, including preparing for the first day, taking a close look at your school's culture, and parent involvement strategies.
Reaching out to parents of ELLs
Some Hispanic parents feel apprehensive about getting involved because of limited English skills, lack of familiarity with mainstream culture and the public school system in the U.S, and other reasons. Discover ways to reach out to your bilingual families.
Read about classroom-tested ideas on how to host a successful bilingual family night for families.
Meet Angelica Torres who was apprehensive at first about volunteering at her child's school. She loved it and now encourages other parents to get involved. Watch the video below.
Home-school collaboration for students with ADHD
For students with ADHD, it is essential to have effective parent-teacher communication, collaboration, and consistency on goals and rewards, as well as collaborative planning and monitoring of interventions.
Weekly classroom newsletter template
Parents love to know what's going on in their child's classroom, and a weekly newsletter is a great way to keep the communication going. Reading Rockets offers a ready-to-use, editable newsletter template complete with extra graphics and more than 50 reading tips.
Local literacy events and resources
- Subscribe to the public library newsletter for story time hours and special children's programming such as el día de los niños
- The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress publishes a calendar of book fairs by state.
- Subscribe to publisher author alerts. AuthorTracker, a nifty service from HarperCollins, will notify you whenever your favorite authors come out with new books, go on tour, and more
- Plan an author visit for your school. Many authors welcome invitations — check out their websites to learn more.
Great e-newsletters for teachers
For parents: back-to-school resources
Back-to-school night basics
Make the most of back-to-school night. It's a valuable opportunity to learn important information about your child's classroom experience. (Also in Spanish)
Help your child make a smooth re-entry to school
Browse these tips on topics ranging from what to expect on the first day of school, to dealing with back-to-school anxiety, and adjusting to a new teacher
Connect with your school counselor
As a parent, you know your child best. However, the school counselor can help you better understand your child as a student. Learn how you can collaborate effectively with the school counselor to ensure your child's academic and social success.
10 ways for parents to help teachers
Tip #1: Create a smooth takeoff each day. Give your child a hug before she ventures out the door and you head to work. Look her in the eye, and tell her how proud you are of her. Your child's self-confidence and security will help her do well both in school and in life. See all 10 tips.
Tips for a positive partnership
The U.S. Education Department provides these tips for parents about how to be involved in your child's school, and what to do if problems arise.
If your child has learning difficulties
The best way to support your child with learning disabilities is to develop a strong relationship with the teachers, administrators, and other staff who educate your child.
It takes a while for teachers to get to know their students. Parents, especially parents of special needs students, can help the process along by designing a dossier and discuss it at the first parent-teacher conference.
You'll find a rich library of back-to-school parent resources at Understood.org, including this guide: Start School Strong: A Back-to-School Guide for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues.
For teachers: resources to print and share with parents
Back-to-school books for kids
Who's who at your child's school
Customize this list of personnel for your own school and distribute to parents at back-to-school night.
The school library
Did you know that the size of a school library's staff and collection is one of the best school predictors of academic achievement? Offer parents information about how to access and support your school library.
Parent guides to student success
These 4-page printable guides to student success provide an overview of what your K-3 child will learn by the end of the school year in mathematics and English language arts/literacy. (In English and Spanish)
Reading with your child: parent tip sheets
For parents of kids in preschool through grade 3, these reading tip sheets are available in 11 languages.
Subscribe to these free one-page articles for parents, in English and Spanish, on topics ranging from building background knowledge to helping your kids succeed in school.
Do you have a reading rocket at home?
Download and print this colorful bilingual door hanger.
Small notes tucked inside a lunchbox or bookbag can really bring a smile to your child's face. In addition to reinforcing reading skills, you're also modeling the power of writing. Download these ready-to-print note papers.