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How to Host an Inviting Back-to-School Night

Back-to-school night prepares families and children for a new school year. Use our checklist and activity ideas to plan an informative, engaging, and fun event.

How to Host an Inviting Back-to-School Night

How to Host an Inviting Back-to-School Night

A back-to-school night event helps teachers foster connections with their children's families, giving them a glimpse into what children will learn in the upcoming school year. An informative back-to-school night can prepare families for what to expect from your program and get children excited for a new year. Consider our tips below to plan an informative, engaging, and fun back-to-school night.

A group of preschoolers sitting on a rug with two adults.

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Basics of back-to-school night

Back-to-school night allows teachers to show families what their children will learn during the school year. This event is also an opportunity for families to connect with their child's teacher and discover ways to engage with their child's education.

Unlike an open house, which markets a school or childcare program to new families and encourages them to enroll their children, back-to-school night shows currently enrolled families what their children will embark on during the new school year.

While back-to-school nights can look different depending on the childcare program, here are some common activities you may include in your event: 

  • Meet the teacher: This gives teachers an opportunity to share who they are. Teachers can share their professional background and teaching experience and provide information that helps the families and children get to know them better. That can be something as simple as sharing what they like to do in their free time or whether they have pets at home. 
  • Introduce the curriculum: Provide an overview of what children will be learning and working on throughout the year.You can also share how they can prcommactice their new skills at home. 
  • Tour the classroom: Provide a tour of the classroom, including the different learning centers, outdoor areas, bathroom, and anything else that’s specific to your classroom.

Back-to-school night ideas

Make your back-to-school night informative and engaging with these tips.

Introduce yourself with a slideshow

At the start of your back-to-school night, introduce yourself to your children's families. A "Meet Your Teacher" slideshow is a great way for educators to share information about themselves with families. You can use websites like Canva to create customized slides with your picture, contact information, teaching style, and fun facts.

Provide information about important dates

Sharing your class schedule for the year can help families prepare for things like upcoming field trips, parent-teacher conferences, volunteer opportunities, and other important events so they can participate in their children's education as much as possible.

If your class schedule hasn't been finalized by back-to-school night, you can use a tool like brightwheel's communication feature to share updates and schedule changes with families as they arise.

Show families a typical day for their child

Families want to learn more about their children's daily experiences in the classroom. At your back-to-school night event, have families move from one learning center to another following your classroom schedule. If your children typically have free time for unstructured play before moving to a structured science activity, show your families where their children participate in unstructured play and then show them your classroom's center for science lessons.

If possible, show examples of learning objectives and completed activities from prior classes so families can get a clear understanding of each activity’s educational benefits.

Share your goals and expectations for the year

After families have toured your classroom, share your goals and expectations for the year. Address the typical developmental milestones that you expect children to reach during the time spent in your program. Tell families how often you’re assessing children’s skills and what will happen if you have any concerns. 

This is also a good time to discuss your communication expectations with families like the best ways and times to reach you and how often they can expect updates from you. You can also emphasize the importance of each family’s involvement in their child’s learning and share ways they can reinforce lessons at home.

Review information with an interactive quiz

At the end of back-to-school night, review information with families using an interactive quiz. You can use websites like Kahoot! to create multiple-choice quizzes that families can complete using their phones.

Interactive quizzes are a fun way to ensure you have succeeded in your goals for back-to-school night and your children’s families have learned the important information they need to help their children have a great school year.

Back to school night checklist

Follow this checklist to prepare for a successful back-to-school night:

Make your classroom inviting

Your classroom is families' first impression of you, your teaching style, and their child's learning experience. Decorate your classroom with artwork that children have completed during the first few weeks of school to show families what they’ve been learning.

Make sure your classroom is well organized. Clearly label the stations that families will visit in the classroom. Place a sign-in sheet at the entrance of your classroom to keep track of who attends your back-to-school night.

Keep your classroom door open after the start of your back-to-school night rather than closing the door when the event begins. This will make your classroom more inviting and allow families running late to enter the classroom without creating a distraction. It will also help to keep activities running smoothly because teachers won’t need to interrupt themselves to open the door for families after the event has begun.

Provide extra copies of handouts

Make extra copies of handouts and materials you’ll share with families during your back-to-school event. Although you may want to save resources by making just enough copies for the people who registered for the event, it's a good idea to have extra copies on hand to prepare for the possibility that handouts will get torn or misplaced during the event.

Create sign-up sheets for volunteer opportunities and donations

Create lists of volunteer opportunities for families and items you would like families to donate to your classroom, such as cleaning supplies, books, items for art projects, or first aid supplies. Place these lists at a station during your event so families can sign up to donate supplies or volunteer their time to help in the classroom.

Hand out contact information magnets

Making magnets with your contact information is an easy way to ensure families can stay in touch with you after the back-to-school event. Print your name, job title, school name, phone number, and email address onto cardstock paper. Laminate the cardstock and attach an adhesive magnet to the back of it to create a simple contact info magnet that you can give to families at the end of your back-to-school event.

Mom and dad help their young daughter with an art project in the classroom.

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Back-to-school night activities

Make your back-to-school night fun for families with these activities.

Name alliteration game

Have each family member introduce themself with an adjective that begins with the same sound or letter as their first name, for example, "Brave Brandon," "Kind Kim," or "Silly Sara." This game will help you get to know your children's families and help your children practice phonics.

"All About Me" caterpillar

This "All About Me" caterpillar activity is a simple craft that families and children can make together during back-to-school night. It makes a great keepsake for families to take home after the event as well.

How to make an "All About Me" caterpillar:

  • Print this template onto different colors of construction paper.
  • Have your child's family member cut out the circles in alternating colors.
  • Have your child's family member ask their child each prompt. Write their answers on the circles.
  • Have your child's family member glue circles of alternating colors to each other to form a line and glue a blank circle onto the end of the line of circles. This is the caterpillar's head.
  • Have your child's family member cut two narrow rounded rectangles out of a piece of construction paper and glue them to the back of the blank circle for the caterpillar's antennae.
  • Have your child's family member glue a current photo of their child onto the front of the blank circle.

Scavenger hunt

Create a list of things in the classroom for children and families to find, such as their child's desk, their child's cubby, the class pet, and the restrooms. Have the families at your back-to-school night form groups and work together to find everything on their list in exchange for a prize. A scavenger hunt is also a fun way for your children's families to meet and get to know each other while exploring the classroom.

Guess your child

During the first week of school, have the children create a paper plate self-portrait. At back-to-school night, display all the self-portraits so families can guess which child is theirs. 

How to make a paper plate self-portrait:

  • Give each child buttons, crayons, paper plates, and glue
  • Have each child color their plate to represent their skin color and glue buttons of different sizes and colors to represent their eyes, nose, mouth, and hair

Photo booth

Put together a simple interactive photo booth for children and their families where they can take photos to remember this special event. You can get inexpensive items for the photo booth from Walmart, Amazon, The Dollar Tree, or other local craft stores. 

How to create a photo booth:

  • Cover a bulletin board with construction paper or photography backdrop paper
  • Use an x-acto knife to cut a rectangle from a heavy-duty poster board
  • Cover the poster board in decorative duct tape
  • Glue the school year and preschool name on the poster board

Final thoughts

A back-to-school night can positively impact children's success throughout the school year. Showing families your plan for the school year, encouraging them to continue their child's lessons at home, and giving them ways to receive important updates on their children's progress can help the children succeed and help families play an important role in their children's education.

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