An open house at school can either be a prolonged nightmare or a pleasant learning experience for the teacher. The amount and the quality of planning and preparation will make the difference.
The earlier the principal and staff agree on a date and time for the event, the better. A note should be sent home two weeks ahead to invite the parents to attend. It is helpful to send a follow-up reminder several days ahead.
In both notes, inform the parents that the function of an Open House is for them to visit the classroom where their children spend so many hours, to greet the teacher, and to see projects and displays of the children’s work. If the principal intends to extend a general welcome, make opening remarks, or if there is to be entertainment presented, note the times and locations of these events.
Advise parents that Open House is not the time to discuss their child’s progress, or lack thereof. If they wish to make an appointment for this purpose, they should contact you at school, any day, before or after class.
Most teachers prefer to have Open House in the early evening, so that both parents can attend with their child. It is an excellent opportunity to teach the children the proper way to make introductions. They should bring their parents to the teacher and introduce them. Impress on the students that they are to be the hosts and hostesses for the evening; they are to make their parents feel welcome in their classroom, in their school.
After parents and teacher have met, it is the child’s responsibility to show his parents around the class: his desk, his books, his work on display, his favorite centers or activities. He may also wish to introduce his friends and their parents. It can be a time of real growth in social skills for those children who are mature enough to take advantage of it. If the parents are new to the school, he may also wish to show them the library, the gym, the nurse’s room and other points of interest.
As soon as a definite date is set, have the children begin projects and art work for display. Cover walls, doors, hang things from the ceiling, decorate the windows. Ensure that every child has several pieces of work exhibited, of which he can be proud.
On the day of Open House, appoint monitors to tidy shelves, cupboards, lockers, cloakrooms and wash blackboards. Each child is responsible for cleaning up his desk and arranging his notebooks on top for parents’ inspection.
When the children leave for the day, you leave too. Give the caretaker time to do last-minute procedures. After a light supper, and a shower, you may prepare for an enjoyable social evening. Meet the parents graciously, then watch your little hosts and hostesses shine. You may have to step in and help several, but it shouldn’t spoil the enjoyment of the evening for anyone.
With careful planning and preparation, Open House can be an enjoyable occasion, and a worthwhile learning experience for everyone involved, teacher, parents and children.