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August 11, 2011 Meet the Teacher: Ideas for a Successful Open House By Michelle Sullenberger
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    Many schools offer an open house prior to the start of the school year. On this day, parents and students come to the school, tour the classroom, visit with friends, and meet the teacher. The furniture is in place, the classroom is organized, and new friends hop, skip, and jump through the classroom door. Ready or not, here they come!

    I meet and greet students and families during Open House using these simple steps:


    1. Provide a Sign-In Table

    I designate a location in the classroom to collect important information. I have a sign-in sheet to record the parents' and child’s name. I arrange an area on this table for parents to record end-of-day transportation plans. I want to know how my students are getting home each day. I remind parents to record accurate information and to seek out this information from the main office if necessary.  Separate sheets are provided to record the dismissal plans for buses, day cares, walkers, and car riders. Having the dismissal information organized prior to the start of the school year will help ensure a happy and safe end to the first day of school. 



    2. Welcome Volunteers

    Parent volunteers assist during the first week of school. I provide a sign-up sheet for parents or family members to organize first-day supplies, assist with clerical duties, or help students in the cafeteria. Volunteers make note of their date and time on reminder slips I leave near the sign-up sheet. I collect additional information regarding parents’ interests for volunteering in the classroom and at the upcoming back-to-school night. 



    First day papers

    3. Organize First-Day Information

    I put a packet of materials on the top of each student’s desk with several first-week forms and a welcome letter. The welcome letter provides information regarding lunch money, student snacks, the daily folder, and the schedules for physical education, music, and art. I also include a parent/child survey to learn more about the students and their families. This packet may be taken home and any papers requiring completion may be returned to me at the start of the school year. Each student also receives a welcome letter, directions on how to organize a school supply box, and a classroom scavenger hunt checklist.


    4. Hold a Classroom Scavenger Hunt

    My students, families, and siblings are curious about the new classroom. A list of items to find in the classroom provides the students with an active opportunity to explore their new space. 


    School supplies

    5. Organize School Supplies

    Students and families organize the new school supplies. Labeled baskets are placed in a designated area in the classroom for students to sort pencils, glue sticks, markers, folders, notebooks, art smocks, highlighters, tissues, and wipes. Students also organize their own supply boxes with a glue stick, a pair of scissors, and a box of crayons to get us started on the first day of school. Download an "Organize Your Own School Box" worksheet.



    Gift bag

    6. Celebrate the New School Year

    I personally welcome and thank each student and family for taking the time to visit the classroom. I also place a welcome bag on each student’s desk. In this bag, a few supplies welcome each student to the start of our year. Students take this welcome bag home at the conclusion of the Open House. 


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Susan Cheyney