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How Parents Can Make the Most of Back to School Nights

May 30, 2024


The best part of the new school year is that the teachers are fresh and enthusiastic, and the kids are glad to be back at school where they can reconnect with friends they hadn’t seen all summer. Everyone is optimistic — Enjoy it while it lasts!

And, every school has Back to School Nights at this time of year to give parents the opportunity to meet their kids’ teachers and get a little glimpse of what to expect for the school year. Some teachers layout their plans and give parents a heads up about big projects. Others share with parents grading rubrics — how they calculate grades — and tips on how to maximize their children’s chances of getting A’s or B’s.

Here are some questions to think about before you go to Back to School Nights.

Elementary School
1.  What are some of the major skills that our kids will learn this year to prepare for the next grade?

2.  What can we as parents do to reinforce the skills that you’re teaching in the classroom?

3.  Is your class divided into different tracks (faster vs slower), and if it is, what can a parent do to help their child get into the faster track?

Middle School
English/Language Arts:
1.  What parts of English grammar will the kids learn this semester?

2.  Will students be learning how to write essays?

3.  What books and how many books will the kids be reading this year?  Will they be unabridged books or synopses?

1.  I would like to be sure that my child gets a solid foundation in math facts before he/she starts algebra.  What is the plan to build this foundation this year?

2.  What areas of science will be covered this year? How many labs will the students participate in?

3.  What can we do as parents to supplement class learning to ensure that our kids will be ready for Honors or AP science in high school?

High School

1.  Will students learn vocabulary that will help prepare for the SAT or ACT?

2.  How many essays will the students write, and will you be editing them (as opposed to peer edits)?

3.  What books and how many books will the students read this year? Will students be required to write essays about their readings?  How many drafts will the students write?

4.  Will the students write research papers in either English or History classes? How will they learn how to write the many essays that are required in college?

1.  How many labs will the kids do this semester/year? Will they be required to write complete lab reports?

2.  Will their preparation in your class prepare the students to enter introductory science classes in college?

3.  Can you recommend how the students can use outside-of-the-class resources to build a strong science foundation to prepare for success in college?

Modern Language:
1.  What can we do to supplement classroom learning to encourage our kids to become fluent in the language?

2.  Will the students be writing paragraphs or essays?

Use this time at Back to School Night to understand more about what your child will be learning — and not learning — this year.  Armed with this knowledge, you can support your child by supplementing with programs that will fill the gaps.  Remember, you’re your child’s only advocate!

Susan Tatsui-D’Arcy was born and raised in Southern California and currently lives in Santa Cruz, California. After her first child was born, Susan set up a preschool so she could spend more time with her daughter and provide engaging activities for her. She invited other children to join to create a stimulating and social environment. Realizing that no existing school met the standards she wanted for her children, she opened an elementary school for accelerated students that expanded with her children as they advanced each year. When her daughters were in middle school, Susan created ProjectMERIT to inspire teens to find their niches and pursue independent projects and then expanded Merit Academy to include high school and college advisory. Susan has written eleven books on parenting, education & time management. Susan is the CEO and founder of Merit Academy and Merit Educational Consultants. For fun, Susan skis, ATVs, and manages her aquaponics garden and permaculture fruit orchard. Read more about Susan here…