10 Questions To Ask At Back To School Open House Night

10 Questions To Ask At Back To School Open House Night

At this point most everyone across the country is back to school. This year I have a sixth grader, a second grader, and one in Pre-K!  So far we are falling into a nice routine with only a few minor hiccups.  You know, like my four year old not understanding that school is indeed EVERYDAY! I’m slowly making it through signing all sorts of paperwork and filling out ‘getting to know you’ questionnaires for the kids.

As I’m filling out these surveys it dawned on me that I know nothing about my children’s teachers with the exception of the general bio they sent out over the summer detailing their marital status, how many kids they have, where they went to college, and how much they love teaching.  This is great information to know, but it gives me little insight into how they plan on teaching my child and what learning environment they are hoping to create.

This is why I encourage parents and caregivers to attend their school’s back to school open house night.  Most schools host a back to school open house night within the first few weeks of school starting.  Teachers use this time to explain to parents what their expectations are, what the curriculum will look like, and to discuss other general school related business.

In order to maximize what you get out of the meeting, it’s a good idea to show up to back to school open house night prepared with questions of your own.  Remember, back to school open house night is not a time to discuss your child specifically, so you will want to keep your questions general in nature.

I know for me it’s hard to come up with questions on the spot so I have a list of questions I generally ask teachers at the beginning of the year.  Here are ten questions I ask at back to school open house night:

  1. How do you personalize the learning experience for your students? You want to know if the teacher takes different learning styles into account as they deliver information to students.  For instance, how does different learning styles influence the pace at which they teach?
  1. What are the main things students should walk away from your class knowing? You want to be clear about the academic expectations for your child.  This will help you to monitor your child’s progress and to recognize when they might need support in certain areas.
  1. What questions should I be asking my child about your class? I know when I ask my kids about their day at school I get a series of ‘I dunno.’ However, last year my son’s fifth grade teacher told us at the back to school open house night that every day her students worked on a reading passage and on Fridays they did a science experiment. She encouraged us to ask our children specifically about these things.  For example, what experiment did you do? Who did you work with? What did you think of what you read or experimented on, etc. Ask your child’s teacher about any class projects or daily activities she has planned for students.  Something as simple as knowing what book a teacher is reading aloud in class can help you get more information from your child when you ask them what they did at school.
  1. How do you use test scores to promote learning? Students are subjected to all sorts of quizzes, classroom tests, and standardized exams. Test scores can reveal quite a bit about a student. This is why it’s helpful to know if your child’s teacher uses these test scores to help your child grow academically or if they just use it as a measurement of academic progress or lack thereof.
  1. How do you encourage students to think critically? When it comes to elementary and middle school, a lot of what goes on in classrooms is teachers sharing facts with students and asking them to memorize these facts so they can be tested on them at a later date. You want to know if in addition to teaching rote memorization that your child’s teacher also challenges students to think for themselves and to ask questions instead of always accepting what they are told.
  1. Do you use technology to enhance students’ learning experience? If yes, how? In order to be prepared for the 21st century, today’s kids need to be technologically savvy. You will want to get an idea of how technology is being utilized in the classroom.
  1. What can I do to support my child’s academic experience? Your child benefits a great deal when there is a strong home-school connection. Find out from your child’s teacher what things you can do to ensure your child has a successful academic year.    
  1. What are some additional resources I can use with my child to supplement what you are teaching them in the classroom (i. learning websites, books, etc.)? Sometimes a child doesn’t readily grasp what they are taught in school.  It helps when you can reinforce what they are learning in class through playing a computer game on a learning website or watching an academic lesson on a trusted YouTube channel.
  1. What steps will you take if a child begins to struggle academically? It is important to know what the process is for getting help if your child is struggling with their school work.  The last thing you want to happen is to find out during the last weeks of school that your child doesn’t understand important concepts they need to master in order to move on to the next grade.  Most schools have a plan in place for how academic interventions are done.  You want to make sure you know what that process is and you also want to make sure your child and the teacher knows what the process is as well.    
  1. What steps will you take if a child is being bullied? As much as we would like for bullying not to be an issue for our children, the reality is that bullying happens in our schools. It’s important that everyone knows the protocol for reporting incidents of bullying and also what measures will be taken to ensure that every child feels emotionally and physically safe while at school or on the school bus.

Did I miss anything?  What questions will you be asking at your child’s back to school open house night?

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  1. I never thought about needing to ask any of these! (Then again, my son isn’t even a year old yet so I’m not in the school phase!) My mom had 7 kids, of which I was the 5th so she usually knew my teachers and never went to my back to school nights. But I love this list and I’m definitely going to keep it in mind when the time comes for me to do back to school!

  2. These are great questions! I would have never thought to ask “What should I be asking my child about your class’? I like that one a lot because if you don’t ask the right questions, you’re sure to get a lot of ‘I dunno’s’. lol

  3. These are definitely great things to be thinking about. I might try to put them in natural conversation so it doesn’t come across like a job interview. Asking what the teacher’s personal teaching philosophy is might be a good start. You don’t want to put them on the offence – after all you’re both working together for the good of your child.

  4. Scott now that’s where it gets a little dicey. Some teachers mean well but are limited by their administrators and then you have other teachers who just give lip service. That’s why I always encourage parents and caregivers to ask questions and be informed so that they can be the best advocate for their kids.

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