Ahhhh...Open House/Back to School Night! It is that evening in the beginning of the school year where you rush home after work (much to your child's chagrin) so that you can freshen up and race to get to the school on time for some educational festivities. For others, going home first is out of the question, so they have to head over to the school straight from work hoping that the school will at least provide snacks and light refreshments to quell the slow festering anger audibly developing within their stomachs. "What a grim picture you paint Mr. Buddoo!" Well, not really.
Believe it or not, I am actually saying all that to convey how much I acknowledge that it is sometimes a huge sacrifice just to make it to an Open House/Back to School Night event, let alone on time! I honor the parents who see it as an important spoke in the wheel of their child's education! Congratulations! You get it! There is no need to convince you of its importance so you may stop reading this blog at the end of this sentence if you would like. However, if you would like some positive reinforcement, please, continue on.
For those who do not see the importance of it...well, why the heck not? (Please take that question in the most endearing tone possible.) Perhaps the answer is that you haven't finished reading this blog yet. In that case, let's consider the benefits of attending Open House/Back to School Night...shall we?
It is important that you know your child's teacher. Think about it. Your child spends at least eight hours of his/her day at school (and that doesn't even take into account the possible time spent doing school-related extra-curricular activities). I don't know about you, but I would feel quite uncomfortable with my child spending so many hours per week with adults I don't even know, even IF they have all passed background checks! Teachers will have influence on your children (and yes the presumption should that it will be a positive one), so it is definitely imperative to know the other important people that are in the lives of your children.
It reinforces a positive teacher-parent relationship. As I have stated in a previous blog, (see "The Secret of Your Child's Success") your parental involvement is important for the success of your child. However, the true success is dependent on us all (teacher, parent, and student) working together towards a common goal. When I (as a teacher) see parents attend their child's Open House, this send a non-verbal message to me that you are serious about the role that you play in your child's education. It also makes it that much easier for the teacher to initiate future conversations with you (and vice-versa) because it has already been established that you are both on the same side and working towards the success of your child.
It allows you to see the resources of the school and classroom. Let's face it; the educational system has its drawbacks and not every school is created equal. If you aren't aware of the problems of the school, you can't have a part in helping to solve them. On the flip side, if you aren't aware of the resources of the school, you won't know what is available to help your child to become successful.
It makes the school more likely to become better. There has always been a positive correlation between the success of a school and the ratio of involved parents. Not only does it help the child's success, but it also helps to keep the teachers and administrators accountable. Am I suggesting that without you, we would not be accountable? No I am not. I am suggesting that your involvement helps us all to be accountable to each other because it establishes positive relationships (if done correctly and from a genuine and positive place). It is symbiotic relationship. It helps us to help you to help us to help you to help your child.
It sends a great message to your child. It says, "not only do I want you to succeed; I am willing to be an active participant in the process of your success." Of course, attending an Open House alone would not be enough to continuously convey this message; however, it is definitely a start. Your sacrifice and investment in your children is NEVER in vain. I honor each parent who sees this process as an important one. It definitely make it easier for us teachers to do what we do!