Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back to School Open House

Each year, my school holds an open house the evening before school starts.  It's a come-and-go event, so there's no formal meeting or presentation.  The hour totally zips by!  In preparing for the new school year, I thought I'd share my tips for hosting an open house and give you an overview of what you find in my classroom!

Ready for Open House!
  • Greet everyone!  It's completely overwhelming meeting all of the students and parents AND having past students and parents popping in to say hello!  It's sometimes hard to make sure I greet everyone, but I really do try to make my very best effort to greet everyone that steps into my classroom.  I even try to introduce myself to the siblings that come in as well.  You never know when it's going to help that you know that older brother in 5th grade or that little sister in kindergarten!
  • Give them your best first impression.  I'm not a parent, but in going to open house at my brother's school I see how first impressions of a teacher make a big impact.  Make sure your classroom is put together and that you are dressed to impress.  I think this has helped me gain the respect of my students' parents, especially being a younger teacher.  
  • Make sure the kids know they belong in your classroom.  I mean this in several ways...  Kids are always a little nervous about starting school and being in a new classroom, so I try to have everything ready with the kids names on it.  It's just one little way that I can show them that they're a part of our classroom.  
  • Ask for help.  Open house is a great time to recruit parent volunteers or other helpers.  I try to have some sort of display asking for extra supplies for the classroom.  You may also consider having a signup sheet for parents to get names of those who would be willing to help with parties, projects, or field trips.  Our room parents coordinate most of our parties, but it's still nice to have a go-to list for other events.  
  • Show off the fun you had last year!  I try to make a Photo Story of pictures from the previous school year and have it playing during the open house.  The kids from the previous year love coming in and seeing all of the pictures and the new kids love seeing what kinds of things we do in third grade.  (Photo Story is super easy to use and I'm pretty sure it's a free download on the Microsoft website.  I can usually hammer out a Photo Story in only 10 minutes if I'm really in a hurry!)  If you're not tech savvy, you could also create a Power Point or just have photos out for everyone to look at.
  • Have a parent packet ready.  I have a pretty extensive classroom handbook that covers all of our routines and procedures.  It basically explains how I run things and what to expect this year.  I have a sheet for the parents to fill out about their child and then I have them sign the sheet saying that they've read through the packet.  I know of some teachers that have had to go back and show proof they notified parents of a policy or procedure, so this is always a good idea.  
Like I said, the hour zips by super fast!  There are always those parents that want to tell you all about their child and give you their life story.  Just do your best to make the rounds and meet everyone and let them know how you can be contacted.  It's important to open up communication from the very start and make a great first impression!

Do you have any tips, hints, or suggestions for hosting an open house in your classroom?  I'd love to get some new ideas and hear how the rest of you run your open house!


  1. Those are great tips, especially for new teachers. My goal this year is to be a little better about asking for parents to help/volunteer. Thanks for sharing!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  2. I love to make a scavenger hunt sheet to keep people moving around the room and noticing all the little things that I've set up. i.e. "Can you find the Reward Jar? We use this in our classroom to..." I'm the last thing to find on their list :)

    Have a wonderful open house!

  3. Those are great tips! We also have Open House the night before school starts, except it is a formal event. I have to get up and give this speech about what I do in my classroom and what the school expectations are! Ugh!!! There is nothing worse... I always say that after Open House it is all down hill from there :)

  4. Thanks for the great Open House tips. I would love to hear more about the parent packet you give out. I am new to elementary this year and want to make sure I start out on the right foot.


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