Every year most schools have a back-to-school night. This is generally the evening when parents get a babysitter, rush home from work and head out to school to hear a presentation by the principal or director and visit their child’s classroom.
When your child first starts preschool, back-to-school night is something most parents really look forward to. Finally getting invited to a back-to-school night means that you have crossed over into the world of education. Your child is now a part of something exciting and wonderful as they have begun their journey as a student and you have become the parent of a child in school.
Having a child in school is extremely exciting. It also can be the most nerve-racking experience you've ever had. You start to wonder. “What if my child struggles?” “What if the teacher doesn't like him or her?” “What if they don't make any friends?” “What if I, don't make any friends with the other parents?” The list goes on and on.
My first back-to-school night was the year my daughter started preschool. When I left that evening my daughter didn't want me to leave. She didn't care if I went to back-to-school night. She just wanted me to stay home. But I was really excited to go. I wanted to meet her teachers, meet the director, hear about everything that was going on in her classroom and meet all of the other parents. I wanted her teacher to know me, know that I was Chloe's mom, that I was concerned about my daughter's well-being and that I was going to be involved in her education. I also wanted to know that the teacher knew all about my daughter and thought she was amazing, wonderful and of course extremely gifted.
When I arrived at the school all of the parents were asked to move into the auditorium for a short presentation. I was at the edge of my seat anxiously anticipating everything that I was going to learn that night. After the presentation we were allowed to visit our child's classroom. We walked around and saw samples of our child's work and finally had the opportunity to make ourselves known to the teacher. Of course we had met during our brief tour and see each other quickly at drop off in the morning, but this was my time to really make a connection and let the teacher know that I was here and that I cared about everything that my daughter was exposed to. I was going to make sure she had the best education possible. Unfortunately there were 48 other parents who also had the same idea. When I finally did get up to say hello to the teacher it was already 9:05 and the evening was ending. I said hello, thank you for making everything so wonderful for Chloe and told her that we were very happy with the program and school. She thanked me and moved on to the next parent in line.
I left back to school night feeling somewhat unfulfilled but realized that this was a rite of passage. Although I didn't have the individualized attention and soapbox I had envisioned, I learned a lot about what the class was doing that year, what the Directors visions were for the school and just how much my daughter's teacher cared for every student in that class. I also had the opportunity to meet parents I wouldn't have met before and ran into some old friends.
As the years went on I have to admit there were some back-to-school nights that I missed feeling that I may have heard it all before. But as my daughter got older she started asking me to attend. She wanted me to meet all of her teachers. She wanted me to hear what the principal had to say about the year ahead and she wanted her teachers to know me. Back-to-school night had become even more about my daughter knowing that I cared enough to rush out that evening after work for her, as it was for me that first time I attended in preschool. As parents there are things that we will do, time and time again that eventually may seem unnecessary. We have done this before year after year, is there anything really new for us to learn? The answer may be yes the answer may be no, however what I do know is that by attending that 10th back to school night, we are showing our children that we care. We care about their education, the wonderful people teaching them and that what the school year has in store for them, is important to us.