As you all head back to your classrooms for another school year, you are provided with that dreaded date for the parent information night!
This can be really daunting for even the most experienced of teachers! Give us a class full of 9-year-olds and we become the most talented Hollywood stars. But, a classroom full of ‘real’ adults and beads of sweat start to form!
Being prepared and organized shines through any nerves you may have on the night – here are some amazing tips and ideas that will have the parents applauding at the end!
Send an Introductory Letter
There are so many things that you want to discuss with the parents at the beginning of a school year. To avoid the information night becoming a bombardment of information for the parents, I used to send a letter home on the first day of school! This letter would cover the following topics:
- About the Teacher – some nice little facts about me as a person!
- Special Area days for their child – Library, PE, Music, etc.
- Important information about the Cafeteria.
- Information about the upcoming Parent Information Night, including the date and time.
Get Creative and Get Organized!
Make sure your displays are finished and the classroom is neat and organized.
Creating some displays with the students in the first few days is also a really nice idea. It not only helps you to get to know your students better but provides the parents with something to look at when they arrive, rather than watching you twiddle your thumbs at the front of the class as you wait for the night to begin!
Here are some cute ideas:
- Have your students write a letter to their parents about three things they love about their classroom! Provide this letter to the parents as they walk in and allow them to walk around and find the things their child likes about the classroom.
- Create a self-portrait display! Like the one below – parents try and pick which self-portrait is of their child!
Image credit: Our Small-Town Idaho Life blog.
Use a PowerPoint
Having a PowerPoint will help you remember the topics you had planned to talk about and will encourage a more professional look to your presentation. It also provides the parents with something visual to look at rather than staring at you! Incorporating an informative video is another way to engage the parents more!
Keep it simple and easy listening for the parents. Most of them have been at work the whole day, just like you!
We have created a Parent Information PowerPoint Template that you may like to use to make things a bit simpler. Fill in the information for each slide and delete any slides that might not pertain to you or your classroom.
What do Parents Want to Know at Class Information Nights?
Routines and procedures
Talk about a ‘typical day’ in your classroom. Without going into too much detail, explain to the parents what their children will be doing from arrival to dismissal. A cute idea is to film the kids talking about what happens during different sessions of the day – such as explaining how English rotations work.
Discuss how behavior is managed at the school and in particular your classroom. Talk to the parents about your behavior management system, how you manage unfavorable behavior, and how you reward good behavior.
Curriculum and Teaching Units
Briefly, go over the curriculum and teaching units that their children will be doing throughout the year. You may like to discuss any excursions and incursions that are occurring and how they are linked to the curriculum in this section of the PowerPoint.
Make sure the terms you are using are understandable to the parents. There is nothing worse than a teacher talking in acronyms that the parents don’t understand.
This is where you can explain how much time is spent on homework in your grade level and what the content will be like. I would discuss sight words and home readers as a must for the primary grades.
Explain to the parents that you understand that occasionally life gets busy and homework may not get completed. Emphasize the point that if this happens, leave the homework sheet, but listen to your child read! I never expected the homework sheet to be completed but I made reading vital!
This video we created would be a great addition for parents to watch during a parent information night:
Tip: To embed a video into your PowerPoint, there are two options – take a screenshot of the video and hyperlink the image to the YouTube clip. Alternatively, within PowerPoint, go to Insert, Video, Online Video, then copy the YouTube link and the embedded link as well.
It makes us all cringe when we hear this word! But parents still want to know about it, especially if their child will be going through it in the year ahead.
Let them know the dates of any state testing and any tips they could do at home to prepare their child.
My classroom always ran so smoothly when I had parent helpers – the more the better I used to say. I used this night to talk about what parents were able to help with both inside and outside of the classroom and do a call out for volunteers.
I found that if I explained how easy it was they were more likely to put their hand up! The thought sometimes scares parents I think.
Communication is Key!
Provide parents with the best way to get in contact with you! I used to provide my email address and say that they could contact me at any time on that email. I checked it in the morning before class and at the end of the day. That way they knew if they sent it at 12 pm – I wouldn’t get to it until 4 pm! If it was an emergency they were advised to contact the school by phone!
Encourage communication! I discussed how I would send home weekly newsletters each Friday to talk about what had happened during the week and important information for the week ahead.
Editable and Downloadable PowerPoint Templates to Use
Make your presentation really pop and impress your parents by using some of these beautifully designed PowerPoint templates. You may like to add your school’s logo and other photos of you and the school grounds as well.
I love this idea! Rather than a boring black and white booklet that, let’s face it, parents are most likely going to throw in the trash, create this visually appealing flipbook with a magnetic strip on the back! Parents are much more likely to take it home and stick it on their fridge for future reference.
Download our editable Parent Handbook flipbook template and put any information you feel relevant to your school and classroom. I then printed each page on colored paper to make it stand out!
Provide One-on-One Time
The parents are there for one thing only! They want to feel you out and talk about their child! I would always explain that the purpose of this night was to talk about the classroom procedures and what they should expect throughout the year. By letting them know that parent/teacher interviews were coming and having a schedule available for them to sign up to see you.
They will hopefully keep personal questions and queries specifically about their child to a minimum. Allowing you time to concentrate on giving them the information you want them to hear!
I created this simple schedule using one of our many editable page border templates.
Tell us Your Tips and Tricks
There are always so many fantastic ideas and tips out there from others – so let’s share! If you have a fantastic idea to add – flick us a comment in this blog…