7 Reasons to Go to Your Child's Back-to-School Night

photo composite of two adults shaking hands and front of school

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

As the summer winds down and kiddie pools are put away, lesson plans are drawn up and bulletin boards are decorated. The new school year is approaching, and everything you need to know about your child's class, curriculum, and expectations are addressed at one particularly important event: back-to-school night.

Think of it this way—you probably wouldn't see a movie in the theater without first checking out the preview, right? Back-to-school night serves a similar purpose for your child's school year. You'll get a better idea of how much your child will enjoy their class, teacher, curriculum, and more by attending.

Research shows that happiness—from elementary age to high school age—is positively correlated with motivation and academic achievement. Attending your child's back-to-school night helps to ensure that you are setting them up for a positive, successful school year.

What Is Back To School Night?

Most schools hold a back-to-school night, which allows parents and students to check out the classroom, meet faculty members, and find out what is in store for the upcoming school year.

"The main purpose is for kids to find their classrooms and meet their teacher," says Audrey Andres, a third-grade teacher at Ocean View Elementary in Norfolk, Virginia.

She adds that another important aspect of back-to-school night involves your child's safety, explaining, "[We] figure out how each kid is getting home the first day. Transportation is the most important piece of information."

Here are seven more reasons to make back-to-school night a priority.

It’s a Chance To Ask Questions 

The more questions, the better. Back-to-school night is the perfect chance to question your child's teacher about expectations, classroom rules, and teaching style. Tina MacDonald, a first-grade teacher at B.M. Williams Primary in Chesapeake, Virginia, provides some examples of questions to keep in mind:

  • What will be expected academically of my child this year?
  • How do you differentiate to meet the needs of each individual student?
  • What are my options if my child is below in an area or needs extra help?
  • Can I come to your class to volunteer?
  • What is the best way to contact you?
  • What supplies do you need for your class, and are there any on the generic school list that you don't need?

Remember, no topic is off-limits when it comes to your child's academic success. Asking questions isn't just helpful—it shows that you care about and are interested in your child's education.

You'll Learn How To Help Your Child at Home

As amazing as teachers are, there is only so much they can do in the classroom. Being able to help your child at home—both academically and behaviorally—plays a huge role in their success at school.

Back-to-school night provides an opportunity to talk more in-depth with your child's teacher about what you can do outside of school hours to facilitate improvements in the classroom. Be sure to ask about any ideas and extra resources that can help.

You Gain a Sense of the Classroom Environment

Visiting a back-to-school night can give you significant insight into the classroom environment. Here are some key things to look out for, according to MacDonald:

  • What is the teacher's personality like? (Are they strict, silly, fun, or loud?)
  • How will the teacher's personality mesh with your child?
  • What is the classroom setup like? (Will they be seated all day at a desk, or is the seating more flexible with rugs, mats, etc.?)
  • What is the overall vibe of the classroom? (Is it loud and busy or quiet and calm?)

Most importantly, gauge how you believe your child will interact in their classroom setting. You will be able to determine rather quickly whether they will thrive or need a little help—so be sure to address any questions or concerns you have.

It Helps Build Relationships

According to MacDonald, back-to-school night helps ensure that parents and teachers are on the same page when it comes to the child's best interests. She adds that building a solid foundation of communication is essential for a smooth school year. "Meeting [the teacher] and showing your child that you are [both] on the same page will set the tone for the entire year," she says.

Andres shares the same sentiment: "A huge part of helping a student have a successful year has to do with the relationship between parents and teacher. Back-to-school night is the beginning of that." She explains that an initial meeting can also make communication more comfortable.

"When I’m able to personally meet a parent, it’s easier to call or interact with them later on, whether it’s for a positive reason or not," Andres says.

You Give and Get Important Contact Info

When you meet with the teacher, you'll have a chance to ask how and when to contact them during the school year. You will also be able to provide your own contact information, which can help you feel more reassured about your child's safety and well-being.

Even more beneficial, MacDonald recommends asking if you can leave your contact info for other families that would like access to it.

"I had a parent ask me this question...and I thought it was brilliant," MacDonald says. "I made a Google doc and shared it with the class, and they could [choose to] leave their info or not. Many of them set up play dates outside of school, and the community in my class [was] built even more. It felt even more like a family among the kids."

It Creates More Confidence

Heading to your child's back-to-school night can mean more confidence for both you and your child. When you are able to walk the halls of the school, meet the staff and fellow students, and get to know the teacher, it boosts confidence and excitement for the first day—especially since it can be scary for kids.

"[Back-to-school night] helps build the relationship with the student too because it’s a more one on one situation instead of all the kids at once," says Andres. "Kids try harder when that relationship is there and feel more comfortable asking for help."

It Shows That You Value You Child’s Education

Making your child's back-to-school night a priority speaks volumes about your interest in their education. Your involvement sends a positive message to both your child and the teacher.

"[Back-to-school night] attendance shows me as a teacher that school is important to the family, and it’s a message to the student that it’s important too," says Andres.

Not only does it demonstrate your appreciation for your child's education, but it shows that you are committed to building and maintaining essential relationships. MacDonald stresses that above all else, a positive relationship between the family and teacher is the key to success.

"If I don't have a relationship with your kid, they [may] not care what I have to teach them," she says. "If I do not have a relationship with [the parents], my suggestions of what to do at home to support [their] child or my observations of [their child's] behavior [may] not matter."

A Word From Verywell

It may be tempting to skip your child's back-to-school night, but attending comes with an array of benefits. Not only will you become familiar with the staff and classroom, but you will also have peace of mind knowing more about where your child spends most of their time during the week.

Remember to put yourself in your child's shoes and ask as many questions as you'd like. At the end of the day, school shouldn't just be a daily task—it should be fun. Attending back-to-school night is one of the best ways to set your child up for a successful, enjoyable year.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard Ed. Magazine. Happy students are motivated students.

  2. National PTA. School safety.

By Alex Vance
Alex Vance is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from pregnancy and parenting to health and wellness. She is a former news and features writer for Moms.com and Blog Writer for The HOTH. Her motherhood-related pieces have been published on Scary Mommy, Motherhood Understood, and Thought Catalog.