Help! 10 Tips for a Successful Back to School Night!

Ahhh, back to school night. .  . This exciting event can truly set the tone for relationships with parents and families as you begin a new year. While it can sometimes feel a little stressful or overwhelming to know exactly what to plan for back to school night, it doesn’t have to be! Today, I am sharing my tried and true, tips for a successful back to school night in your classroom! 

Use these 10 tips and tricks to ensure a super successful back to school night for you, your students, and their parents.

1. Sign In Area

I know this seems simple, but trust me- don’t skip this one! Having a sign sign-in area is essential for many reasons! First off, it will help you remember which parents belong to each of your students right off the bat. I also like to take this opportunity to gather updated contact info such as emails, cell numbers, and home addresses. You would be surprised how often this info is incorrect at the front office!
Creating a sign in area is a great way to help you keep track of which families were able to attend back to school night and which weren't.

Also, having a sign-in area will help you keep track of who wasn’t able to make it to back to school night. I always like to reach out to those families and make sure they receive copies of anything I hand out and fill them in on anything they missed. 

2. Supply Drop Off Area

At the beginning of the year, our school always distributes lists for requested supplies by grade. Some schools have children maintain their own school supplies while others use a “community” supply stash that all the children share. Either way, you will want to have some kind of system set up for parents to drop these items off during back to school night. 
Creating a supply drop off area will help you keep everything organized during and after your back to school night.
If you have students keep track of their own individual supplies, I recommend having parents drop these directly into their cubbies or lockers right after they sign in. You can make a little sign directing them to do so. Alternately, if you have community school supplies, set up boxes or bins labeled for each item and have parents sort these out upon arrival. This will save you time and give parents something to do while everyone gets settled. 

3. Student Activities 

Definitely be sure to prepare some kind of simple activity for students to work on and keep busy! You could plan a simple craft for this or provide some practice activities for them to work on while you speak with parents. Some of my favorite activities are color-by-code worksheets and word searches. Both of these activities are great because students can work independently and require very little teacher instruction, making it easy for you to focus on the parents during this time.  And . . . if you need a no-prep option, you can never go wrong with a small tub of playdough at each student’s desk.
Using engaging activities like these fun Place Value Color by Code worksheets are great to have out for your students during back to school night.

4. “Catch-All” Folder

Every year, I make a folder for each student that will help families keep track of all the important information they will receive this night. There is a lot of information given and I know parents will enjoy the time to go over the information again, more thoroughly, on their own time.
Folders are a great way to help keep you and your classroom families organized.
I like to label one side of the folder “Keep at Home” and one side “Return to School”.  Keep at home is usually all the rules and procedures during the school day.  The return to school side will be any programs I would like the parents to sign up for like Xtramath, Remind, or information that needs a permission slip like emergency dismissal procedures or photos posted on the internet permission.

5. Welcome Gift 

As a nice touch, I always love to add in some kind of cute welcome gift for families. 
Including a welcome gift like these little bags of candy are a great way to show your parents and students you are excited to meet them during back to school night.

This doesn’t have to be anything big, just something that shows families you are excited to work with them this year! In the past, I have given out lots of different things including:

  • a small bag of fun-size candy bars with a cute gift tag (be sure to check Pinterest for this one, there are SO many cute and witty tags to download for various types of candy)
  • a pen and mini notepad with a personalized note from me (grab these items from the dollar store)
  • a bag of microwave popcorn with a note that reads “thanks for popping in” 
There are so many fun, inexpensive ideas out there, feel free to get creative! Again, it truly doesn’t need to cost much to show that you care. 

6. Scavenger Hunt 

I always like to plan a scavenger hunt for families to participate in together for back-to-school night. This is a great way to help students get familiar with the classroom and learn where things are. This is an excellent “icebreaker” activity to start the night off!
A classroom scavenger hunt is a great activity to help your students get comfortable with the classroom during back to school night
Some things I always include in the scavenger hunt in my classroom include: 
  • Find where you will make your lunch choice. What will you choose tomorrow?
  • Find the classroom rules. Which rule are you already a master at?
  • Find the classroom jobs. Which job will be your favorite?
Feel free to include as many questions as you need to cover the “high usage” areas of your classroom and help families understand your daily routine. You can even make this activity use more than just your classroom if you want families to get familiar with other areas in the school as well.

7. Volunteer Information

I always use back-to-school night as an opportunity to provide lots of information about volunteering. Often, it can be really tricky to even find parent volunteers for the classroom, so this is a great time to mention it! I like to write up a little information sheet with all the possible options for volunteering in our school and make sure each parent gets a copy. Also, make sure to let them know if there will be future opportunities, such as field trips, and how they can keep an eye out for those!
Make sure opportunities to sign up are available during the meeting. I usually do NOT add this to the return to school folder because I tend to get more volunteers when I physically see them.  For example, I always know we have Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day parties.  So I will have 3 sheets laid out for parents to sign up for whichever, or all, holidays they will be happy to provide items for or set up. I already have my go-to list when the holiday rolls around!
Get your parents excited about volunteering in the classroom during back to school night with sign up sheets and ways for parents to express areas where they would be willing to volunteer.

8. Classroom Wishlist

Don’t forget to prepare your own, personal classroom wishlist! Often, the school will be in charge of the school supply requests, but they don’t always match up with the materials that you would like to use in your classroom. If you’re stumped on what to add to your wishlist, I’ve got you covered! 
Parents are always looking for ways to support teachers. Make sure to have your classroom wishlist on display during back to school night to help parents know what sort of supplies your classroom could use.
For this, I like to make sure each parent gets a copy of our classroom wishlist and then also leave a little sign-up sheet out for anyone that wants to commit to specific items that evening. Some things you might not need to include on the signup (if you would like multiples) but for larger, more specific items be sure to make a signup sheet! 

9. Teacher Contact Info Magnet 

This one will take a little bit of planning ahead, but is always a huge hit among families! 
A teacher contact info magnet like this is a super convenient way for parents to have all of your information in one place.

I like to make magnets for parents to put on the fridge will all of my contact information on them. For this, you can either order custom magnets from a company like Vista Print, or go the DIY route! 

To make these yourself, grab some cardstock and mini magnets. Design a simple postcard-sized image with all the information you would like to include. 
On mine, I always made sure to include my email, the school office phone number, and our classroom Facebook page.  Anything that you want parents to have right at their fingertips is perfect for this magnet.
Next, print out the designs, cut and laminate them and then stick a magnet to the back. Parents will be able to display these on their refrigerator at home to keep your info close!

10. Photo Area 

Last but not least, I love to include an area in the classroom for families to snap a quick photo to commemorate back to school night! 

I always set up a simple backdrop that matches our classroom theme for students and parents to pose in front of. Amazon has a ton of fun, plastic backgrounds like the one I used that are simple and easy to hang!

An interactive photo area like this is fun for parents and kids during your back to school night activities.

I hope you found some fun, new ideas to incorporate into your back-to-school night routine this year! 

These tips and tricks have served me well over the years and helped me make a great impression with new families on this special night! 

Save These Ideas for Later!

Don’t forget to save these ideas on your favorite classroom Pinterest board so that you can quickly and easily plan your back to school night next year! 
Use these 10 tips and tricks to ensure a super successful back to school night for you, your students, and their parents.


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