A parent night is a great opportunity to connect with your students’ parents, familiarize
them with your teaching style and classroom, and let them know what you expect from
their children in the coming year. More than that, it is the perfect opportunity to get
parents involved with the school and volunteering. However, parent nights, family nights,
and open houses leave little time for one-on- one conversations or extended meetings.
Here are a few tips on how to host a successful parent night at your school:
Pick a theme. Parent nights are a perfect opportunity to share an important idea,
goal, or aspect of your community with your students’ families. Examples of
themes may be Reading With Your Family, Music In Our Schools, International
Food, or Technology in the Classroom. These themes can help parents understand
what your school considers important and allows them to continue the themes in
their own homes over the course of the year.
Have a parent involvement pledge or sign-up sheet. Parents often want to
volunteer but don’t go out of their way to call a teacher or inquire into
opportunities. Having them pledge a few hours of their time or sign up to help
with a specific task or event while at a parent night is an ideal way to recruit help.
Display student art. Make your school warm and welcoming by displaying
recent student art along hallways or by creating a mural in the school’s lobby,
lunch room, gym, or auditorium.
Offer guided tours. Parents will be more likely to go to their children’s schools,
visit with teachers, and become more involved if they know their way around the
school’s halls. As an alternative to a tour, send parents and children on scavenger
hunts in which they visit all of the important places throughout the school.
Share teacher expectations. All too often, parents do not understand how a
child’s school day is structured or what skill level their children should achieve by
the end of the academic year. A parent night is a prime opportunity to give an
overview of your classroom environment and curriculum. Have sample textbooks,
a sample schedule, or even a slide show or Power Point presentation of daily
Avoid individual conversations about students. This is not a parent-teacher
conference, but rather a general welcome for everyone. If a parent would like to
discuss their child with you in depth, set up a separate appointment for them in the
coming weeks. Make sure every parent has your contact information.
Make sure parents know when the open house is! Perhaps the most important
aspect of a successful open house is getting the parents in the door. Don’t shy
away from several different modes of communication, including the school
newsletter, emails, a website bulletin, or even personal phone calls from teachers.