Back To School: How To Make A Good Impression At Back-To-School Night

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As I sat patiently waiting for the end of my daughter’s dance class, the mother across from me was frantically painting her fingernails. And then her toes. Seriously, she was painting her toe nails in the middle of the waiting room. Why was her mani/pedi so important? “It’s back-to-school night at my son’s school tonight and I just didn’t have time to get my nails done.” Oh, that explains it. Wait… why do your nails matter for a visit to your child’s classroom?

A parent at my work was stressing about her back-to-school night. I found out that it was a two-hour event filled with a principle’s speech for all the parents in their crowded gymnasium and then a race to meet all your child’s teachers, including art, music and librarians. You also needed to bring all your supplies to back-to-school night and give them to the teacher personally so that your kids weren’t lugging them in on the bus. Just one more reason to overboard on all those markers, glue sticks and paper towels; you have to hand them in yourself! Heaven forbid if you bought generic, just what would the teacher think then?

In general, mothers tend to use their children as proof of their good parenting and success. School time just ups the ante because you have a whole new group of teachers and parents to impress. We all want to look put-together and generous on our first visit to a new school or a new classroom. But while manicures and extra Crayola may prove your awesomeness to the other parents present, I’m not sure that your child’s teacher will be so easily dazzled.

You want to know the best way to ingratiate yourself to your little one’s teacher? With the help of a couple teachers, I’ve put together some pointers.

  • Be interested in their classroom. As someone who got to help my mother set up her classroom during the last couple weeks of my summer every year as a child, I know just how much work goes into that classroom. Teachers normally have a purpose behind every station and activity. The walls may look a little bare until your children actually start doing work to hang on them, but they’ll probably have examples of previous projects they’ve done in their class. Pay attention to the space where your child is about to spend six hours  a day.
  • Ask questions. I know your burning to find out what this year will bring! Don’t feel the need to get every little detail from a 15 minute visit. But asking a couple basic questions like, “How much homework can we expect?” and “What’s the best way to contact you when we have an issue?” will show that you’re interested in interacting with the teacher and supporting your child. Teachers like to know that the parents care about what happens.
  • Be prepared. If you need to turn in supplies at back-to-school night, have them all in a bag or two with your child’s name written on there. If there are forms that need to be turned in, have them all with you and filled out. Back-to-school night is normally a pretty chaotic event for teachers, trying to meet with every parent and talk to every child. Anything you can do to make the process easier will definitely be appreciated.


Sure, a teacher might admire your outfit, but they are normally more concerned with your child and the support that they are going to get from the parents. When a child’s parents are involved and communicate that education is a priority for their children, teachers feel more confident and able to do their job. Don’t worry so much about your appearance, teachers pick up on a very different image.

(Photo: Thinkstock)