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Bright Ideas for Back-to-School Night ... and Beyond

Parent Engagement

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.

On this page:

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.

Back to School kids

For teachers: planning your back-to-school night

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 (opens in a new window).

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.

Name tags

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 (opens in a new window).

For teachers: beyond back-to-school night

Working with parents

Learn how to build partnerships with your students’ parents that last beyond back-to-school night. Browse these helpful articles:

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 (opens in a new window) for community resources, including the Attendance Awareness Month Toolkit (opens in a new window).

Back to school for principals and school administrators

Dig into these back-to-school tips and resources (opens in a new window) 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 (opens in a new window).

Read about classroom-tested ideas on how to host a successful bilingual family night (opens in a new window) for families.

In the video below, you’ll meet 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. (From our Launching Young Readers program, Becoming Bilingual)

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 (opens in a new window)
  • The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress publishes a calendar (opens in a new window) of book fairs by state.
  • Find out if your favorite children’s authors will be on tour. Many children’s book publishers list upcoming tours on their websites. Check out the websites and social media pages of your favorite uthors and illustrators, too!
  • Plan an author visit for your school. Many authors welcome invitations — check out their websites to learn more.

Great e-newsletters for teachers

Everyone is so busy that it’s hard to keep up with all the good information out there for teachers. Here are some of the organizations that offer useful strategies, classroom resources, technology recommendations, and more. All are free, and just require a quick sign up.

For parents: back-to-school resources

Back-to-school night basics

Make the most of back-to-school night (opens in a new window). It’s a valuable opportunity to learn important information about your child’s classroom experience. (Also in Spanish)

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 (opens in a new window) 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 (opens in a new window).

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.

Home-school collaboration for students with learning and attention issues

For students with with learning disabilities and ADHD, it is essential to have effective parent-teacher communication and ongoing collaboration. Browse the many articles in Working with Your Child’s Teachers (opens in a new window), from our partner, Understood.

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.

For teachers: resources to print and share with parents

Back-to-school books for kids

Find lots more books about school (opens in a new window) with our Book Finder tool.

Who’s who at your child’s school

Customize this list of school personnel for your own school and distribute to parents at back-to-school night.

The school library

School libraries are critical to every student’s learning experience and academic achievement (learn more in this Scholastic report, School Libraries Work (opens in a new window)). 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 (opens in a new window) 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 multiple languages.

Growing Readers

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.

You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected].