Back to School Night and Home-School Partnerships

28 Aug

We had our back to school night last night, and I always appreciate how many parents show up to sit in 4th grade sized chairs, in 80 degree heat, and listen me talk for an hour.  I tell the class this is parental homework, a way for them to experience and empathize with what the kids go through everyday.  It’s mostly a joke, but I do think BTSN is something most parents think is important, but few probably enjoy.

A few years ago I started to tweak back to school night a little, as I began to think about the purpose.  Early on, I had spent time talking about a lot of the technicalities of the year, like what curriculum program we used in math.  Some parents are interested, but for most, BTSN is a way to get a handle on what their child’s teacher is like, what the expectations are of the year, and how they can help at home.

The last is a big one.  Since we want to promote a parent-school partnership, BTSN seems like a golden opportunity to discuss ways parents can support their children to succeed.  For example, in reading, this slide piggy-backs on the information about the reading rate of proficient readers that I share with parents.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 6.36.23 AM

One important idea is for parents to use the information from BTSN to support and encourage students.  We’d love them to monitor their child’s reading log, for example, but we want the log to be a tool to start a conversation about his or her reading life, not to punish or control.

Similar tidbits appear in the BTSN packet about writing and math:

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 6.43.34 AM Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 6.43.40 AM

The tips are small, but they help to guide families in how to support children, and they’ll feed into our goal setting conferences later in the year.  What kinds of things do you do to support your families and draw them in during BTSN?

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