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Back to School Night puts parents in students’ shoes

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Back to School Night can be a great way for parents to get a first-hand experience of their child’s educational experience. (Courtesy photo)

Parents and guardians, do you wonder what your kid does in school all day? Now it’s time to find out.

Attend your child’s Back to School Night. It’s not only a time-honored tradition, but it’s also a really good idea because you get a better picture of your child’s life at school.

Here’s what to expect:

Part of a community

A lot of principals will host a welcome in the cafeteria, library or auditorium at the beginning of the evening. This is where you’ll get a general overview of your child’s school and meet other families. It’s exciting to see so many different families all together in one place to support children learning.

This will also be the time the principal will share expectations for students and possibly schoolwide traditions that you may not have heard about yet.

Go to class

Now to the main event.

Chances are, if you have an elementary-age student, you will spend a lot of time in his or her primary teacher’s classroom. Find your child’s desk or table and have a seat. Take a look at what’s displayed on the walls. Introduce yourself to families sitting around you. Get a feel for what it’s like for your child in this room.

The teacher will greet you, share a little bit about him or herself and give you the low-down on what is planned for the school year — what kids will be learning, what field trips are planned, any important classroom rules and what homework will be like.

True, this is not the night to talk with the teacher in detail about your child. If you need to discuss something specific with the teacher, it’s likely best to use this night to schedule a time to call or to stop by the school soon. It’s good to be in touch with your child’s teacher throughout the school year.

Be a leader

Your child’s school has a School Site Council, made up of parents/guardians, school staff, teachers and the principal. These are elected positions, and major decisions about the school’s priorities and budget are made by this group. Find out more about your school’s SSC while you are there. Meetings are open to everyone in the school community, even if you aren’t an elected representative.

Many schools also have a PTA or PTO. These groups make important contributions to your child’s well-being at school, and you can make a difference by joining.

Schools often have English Learner Advisory Committees, too. This group advises the principal, school staff and the SSC on programs and services for English learners.

You’ll see more about these opportunities and I encourage you to check them out and join if you can!

One night makes a difference

Back to School Night gets you up to speed on your child’s upcoming school year. It gives you a glimpse into what his or her day will be like and you meet people who will be important to your child. Your participation can help your child succeed.

Myong Leigh is interim superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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