Open House Night

Tonight was Open House Night at our school.  I had 17 out of 21 families attend.  Great!

Really?  I don’t think so.

Every year I look forward to meeting the families of the children I teach.  It is such a great way to connect home to school to meet face to face.  I get to see my students in an entirely different light-as a parent’s pride and joy.  My heart is filled with joy when I see the way parents look at their children when I tell them that their son/daughter is a fantastic kid and that I am thrilled that their son/daughter is in my class and can’t wait to help them with their learning.  It is watching love.

But tonight I didn’t see four families.  I can’t help but feel failure.  This year, like every year, I phoned each family and invited them to come, gave times and dates etc.  I left several different notes in the planners in the days leading up to the event.  And every year I have a couple of families who don’t attend.  The worst part is that this year these families are ones I have never met.  I understand that people are busy, after school events, work-everything gets in the way…but how could you not meet the person (in my case people, my teaching partner and I) who are spending 35+ hours a week with their child?  It breaks my heart.

So I am sitting here tonight wracking my brain for ideas of how to get those four families into our school.  I will send home the web address of our class website (if they have internet) and hope that they are able to navigate/access the site.  I will make a phone call home to tell them something that their son/daughter has done well this week,  write a note in the planner…continue with what I do anyway.  But I need some new ideas.  There has to be a way to connect with these families and show them that we want them to be a part of our school and community.  Maybe I will have the class put on some kind of performance…I don’t know.  Any ideas?


Comments

Open House Night — 10 Comments

    • Can you tell me more or post a link to the child protection training? I would be very interested in learning more. Every parent wants their son/daughter to be safe, that sounds like a great hook to bring parents in. Thanks for your comment!

  1. Try home visits. If the parents won’t (or can’t ) get to you then go to them. Many of our families have limited access to transportation and honestly can’t get to school at specific times. Try taking a small gift bag to break the ice since some parents are intimidated by school personnel.

    Possible other ideas include providing child care for young children–perhaps offering service learning credits for older student volunteers along with an adult . Having a dinner or cookout has worked well at our school along with offering incentives for students who bring their parents (our uniform policy is suspended for a day and those who come get to “dress down”). Incentives could include ball game passes, library fine waivers, homework coupons, extra recess, etc.

    Offer a guarantee that only positive comments will be made and good work shown–especially if it is the first meeting of the year–parents are reluctant to come if they know they have to hear bad things about their child.

    • Hi Louanne,
      Thanks for the comments! Food is always a great motivator and child care would certainly make it easier for parents to visit without having to chase after little ones. I agree that we need to keep it positive, especially as other parents are within ear-shot and no one wants to be embarrassed. I appreciate all of your thoughts and ideas!

  2. If supported by the District, sending out busses on normal routes may help transportation issues. Getting some students or a club to run a child care option and then advertising it may bring parents in with smaller kids at home…

    • Transportation is a great angle! A note to ask if parents need transportation is something that I could definately do for next year. I will work on a bus or perhaps using a minivan with my admin team. Thanks for your comment, it’s very helpful!

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