Updated: May 28, 2020
I never know what to call these events. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably and sometimes they are even combined. They can be before the year starts or after. I have even heard the term "Open House" used at the end of the year for parents to come see what their children have done throughout the year. In my personal experience, they have been within the first few weeks of school or a day or two before. No matter when it is or what it is called (and you may even do both events), it is important to be prepared!
In my opinion, the key component of Open House and Meet-N-Greet is to start building strong teacher- parent relationships. Not only do you want an opportunity to provide parents with information, you want to be able to get information from them. The challenges you might face setting up your open house might include:
· Prep Time
· What to Prep
· Date of the Event
· Time Allowed
Continue reading to see how you can not only survive your Open House challenges BUT also make it the best opportunity for building that relationship with your parents!
Challenge 1: Lack of Prep Time
Let’s face it we are tired and get overwhelmed at the beginning of the year! Don’t let anyone say, “There is no reason to be tired because you JUST had a LONG summer”. Of course we had a long summer (and enjoyed it) but only other teachers realize how much time and effort we put into going back to school. Decorating, organizing, trainings, planning, laminating, cutting, paperwork, more training…. Don’t let this mess up the potential to have a Great Open House. If you are tired do minimal planning and just take the time to truly get to know your parents. Unless your school requires it, formal presentations are extra and you DON’T need to tell parents every single thing that is going to happen every day for the entire year. Don’t get me wrong, I like having a Power Point to provide information but sometimes I just let it loop so I can go talk to the parents while they explore the classroom. I also can use the PowerPoint to send to parents that couldn’t make it. I have used the same PowerPoint every year (even when I have changed schools and/or grade levels I just tweaked it as needed). Check out this PowerPoint that can be edited to meet your needs!
Challenge 2: What to Prep
What all should you prep to have a great Open House and build relationships? This is always a focus for teachers. Well, I already discussed a Power Point if you want something that you can use to help share the information.
I also make sure I get:
Emergency contact info
Email Addresses (because I send weekly emails)
Information about their child (they love telling you about their child and this is great for building that relationship)
How will they be going home each day (this is good if the school year hasn’t started)
A “Wish List”
Every year I also try and prep something to personalize the experience. One year the kids recorded videos and I turned them into QR codes that I added to name tags. The videos were their goals for the year. The parents loved it. One year I made a scavenger hunt and the kids took their parents around the room and explored the library, center stations, their desks, etc. through this scavenger hunt. The key to what I consider “extra” prep is just doing what you have time for or can get excited about. Don’t just have your students throw something together last minute because you feel you need something else added to the night. Some years I have had less time to prep so I just kept it simple. Some teachers like to buy snacks, but once again you DON’T have to do this. Do whatever you feel will make this successful for you! Remember, this is your classroom so personalize it for the experience you will be giving their children. Let them get to know you. Let them know you care about THEIR child. That’s all you really need to do! Check out this form for easy prep and organization and click on it to see everything this resource includes! There are table tents to help label areas of your room and to keep you organized.
Challenge 3: Time Allowed with Parents
Ideally Open House would give us plenty of time to talk to the parents and share everything we need to share and talk to each parent individually. BUT many times, we have 30 minutes to fit everything in or for Meet-N-Greets it may just be quick parent pop-ins. Don’t stress because if they lasted too long that could be overwhelming too. Be flexible and just make sure you say "hi" to every parent, make sure they get your contact information and get them to give you their contact information. How can we stay in touch with parents if we don’t know how to contact them? It is also a good way to make sure parents know you will be sending them information. During conferences if they say they don’t get information about the class, refer back to the contact information sheet. Ask if their contact information has changed. They will see how you communicate and how they receive the information. Communication will improve (or at least you won’t continue to be questioned). You may also want to give them a business card so they can easily contact you. Check out these Teacher Business Cards I give out each year!
Challenge 4: Date of the Event
It may be done later in the year than you’d prefer, or it may also be before the year starts. There are pros and cons to almost any time it is scheduled so embrace the pros and move on! There isn’t much more I can say about this BUT since it is a question or complaint I hear a lot, I wanted to mention it. No matter when it is scheduled you can build relationships. Will you display student work if it’s before the year starts? No, but you can still add your personal touch. You can still give information and get information from the parents.