A parents’ night is frequently used to connect with parents, disseminate information, and build a sense of community. A successful event can help establish a strong foundation for parent-teacher relationships and set a positive tone for the entire school year. Below are 5 tips to help you make your next parents’ night an impactful, memorable, and fun experience for everyone.
1. Plan ahead. Way ahead.
We recommend to start planning your event about 8 weeks beforehand to ensure sufficient time for the logistics. When will you hold your event? Weekday afternoons and evenings are typically best for parents’ schedules. For a school-wide event, it’s not uncommon to block off an entire afternoon. Make sure to check school and community calendars to avoid conflicts.
Pick a space that will accommodate everyone comfortably, enhance audience participation, and minimize communication obstacles. If you center your parents’ night around a blended learning program like Reasoning Mind, make sure all of the necessary technology will be available. Test the equipment beforehand. If you plan on having several stations parents can visit, plan not only the themes of the stations, but also the timing of the rotations.
2. Pick an engaging theme.
Picking a theme everyone can relate to isn’t always easy. The best topics excite and engage students and their parents. Popular themes we’ve seen in the past include: Family Reading Night, Go Math!, Movie Night, and Going Green. The best themes usually connect to current programs in your school. For example, if your event is math-focused and your school is using an online math program, tie elements of the program into the theme. With Reasoning Mind, the much-beloved Genie is often a student favorite.
Make sure planned activities tie into the theme of your parent event. Keeping all aspects of the event united under the same theme will help you publicize the event and get the message across. Working on-theme snacks into your event is a great way to make it a hit, especially if you host it late in a day.
3. Publicize, publicize, publicize.
When advertising your event, emphasize that it’s a family activity, so parents don’t just drop their children off. Tell parents what they need to bring (if anything) and whether snacks or a meal will be provided or sold.
Don’t forget – parents hearing about the event will likely depend on their students getting excited about it. Promote the event with banners and posters in school, on the school marquee, during intercom announcements, and on flyers sent home to parents. Don’t forget to include announcements in the school newsletter and on the school website, too. Attendance will depend on your success at building excitement around the event – so get people excited!
4. Engage everyone.
Plan activities that not only extend the event’s theme but also encourage active audience participation. Don’t forget about younger siblings – plan a few activities for the little ones. If the parents’ night is focused around a blended learning program, build in activities that allow students and parents to discover the program together. Flipping the roles and allowing the students to act as teachers when walking their parents through the program brings a fresh perspective and some great energy from the students.
At Cottageville Elementary School in Jackson County, WV, a 2nd grade teacher had her students stay after school to get extra time on Reasoning Mind. Then she had parents come to learn about the program using demo accounts while the students went to the gym to play physically active math games. At the end of the event, everyone convened in the gym for an Awards Ceremony (it was the end of the academic year). Every student was recognized for some accomplishment in Reasoning Mind with a certificate and a handmade ribbon.
5. Don’t forget – have fun!
After spending hours planning the event, coordinating dates, publicizing, taking care of logistics, and planning activities, your event is set for success. Don’t forget to relax, have fun, and enjoy the event that will bring you, your students, their parents and the community closer together.
As a Senior Implementation Coordinator at Reasoning Mind, Anna Berry manages projects to support curriculum implementation. She enjoys learning new languages and dreams of one day being able to travel around the world.