Remember how awkward middle school was? Yeah, us too. Somehow, when you head in for back to school night for your middle schooler, all those feelings can come rushing back and you might want to run out. But attending back to school night is a must for every parent of a middle schooler— if only because it allows you to give them an extra measure of grace as you remember what it felt like to be twelve and confused by the lockers, multiple teachers and all those new responsibilities.
Here are 20 things to do at back to school night.
- Read the email or other information that comes home to find out the evening’s structure. Often you’ll meet in the auditorium or gym first and then follow your child’s schedule.
- Arrive early, as parking can be a beast. Even better, carpool. Then you have someone to walk in with – just like when you were in middle school!
- See if the parent/teacher organization has a table set up and make sure you sign up to get their emailed information.
- Find your child’s locker. If you have the combo, leave a little treat in it. (Refrain from commenting on messiness.)
- As you visit the classes, take note of which other parents are there – it’s fun to see who’s in your kids’ classes!
- Introduce yourself to the parents you are sitting near. Your kid might get a kick out of you mentioning you met their lab partner’s parent.
- Read a copy of the syllabus to see what will be covered that semester. Find out if there are any major projects so you’ll have advance notice of deadlines and needed supplies.
- Get a copy of the class rules so you know what is expected of your child.
- Find out what the school or class cell phone rules are. Teachers appreciate you reinforcing that at home.
- Find out how the teacher grades — what percentage is due to participation, homework, tests, projects and the like.
- Take notes so you can check in with your child on expectations; for example, if they are supposed to be reviewing vocabulary every day or doing outside reading.
- Find out how much homework is typically assigned. That can help you ballpark if your child is doing what he/she should.
- Determine the homework policy; whether late work is accepted or if it can be redone for a higher grade.
- Find out the structure of the different grades. Some schools are divided into “pods,” or “houses,” and kids stay with one group of kids and teaching team all year.
- Get the teacher’s website or blog address and find out how often they update grades online.
- Ask questions (not too many!) about any procedure that you don’t understand.
- Find out how your teachers prefer to communicate (most love email!)
- Introduce yourself to the teacher on the way out. They love to put parents’ names with kids’ faces.
- See how much passing time there is between classes; it’s always great to put yourself in your kid’s shoes so if they complain the time is too short, you know what they mean!
- Check out the lunch room, gym, library and other facilities. Take a moment to visualize your child in each of these places throughout the day and carry that mental snapshot with you.
What did we miss? We’d love to hear from parents what else you should do at your middle schooler’s back to school night? Let us know on our Facebook page!