Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Open House

Schools will soon be having their open houses, if they haven't already. These are usually happy visits with lots of student papers, projects, and artwork on display.

During this time, parents should visit with each of their children's teachers. Learn their names, walk around their rooms, get a feel for what your child will be seeing and doing all day. Ask what the teachers' expectations are. Many will have handouts for you which may include a course syllabus, classroom rules, grading procedures, study tips for their class, and end-of-year goals. Look through the textbooks. Ask about homework: how often will it be assigned, how is it checked, how much does it count toward the student's final grade. Ask about tests and if there are any long-term projects or research papers. Are there supplementary materials that are needed such as a dictionary or calculator? Does the teacher put assignments on the internet in case a student is sick or forgets to write it down?

One thing parents should not do is ask teachers how their child is doing in class. Open houses are not times for conferences about student progress or behavior. Teachers will not usually have that information readily available, nor will they want to discuss your child in front of the many other parents. If you want a conference, call or email the teacher at a later time and set up an appointment. Also, many schools will be having scheduled conference times within a few weeks.

So enjoy your open house. It's a good time to establish a friendly relationship with the teachers. Also, don't forget to visit the cafeteria, library, clinic, counseling office, and main office. You will at some point be dealing with the staff in these areas, possibly more than you will deal with your child's teachers.

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