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Why School Open House Is Important

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: I recently attended my daughter's school's visiting/open classroom day.(She is in sixth grade of a middle school.) I had written the date on our family calendar when I saw it listed on the school district calendar sent to all residents. I turned out to be THE ONLY parent in the entire middle school to show up that day. My daughter was of course mortified and furious with me. I was baffled. When I asked the teachers whether this was par for the course, they just shrugged it off. When I called the principal to ask what the deal was, he was evasive. I'm frustrated and don't want to miss out on what I consider an important part of my parental involvement next year. Any suggestions?

A: It is unfortunate but true that the higher the grade, the fewer number of parents show up at Open House and other informational meetings. Most kindergarten and first grade happenings are well attended by parents. By the time a child has been in school a few years, the parents' attendance has dropped off. If parents are involved in other school activities -- like band -- they sometimes believe they have no need to attend the Open House type functions.

The school and teachers do prepare for these events, however, and I encourage you to attend and invite another parent along next time. Research has shown over and over that the schools that are most successful have a high percentage of parent involvement. Attend meetings that you are interested in and then seek out organizations within the school. If your child is interested or participating in activities such as band, sports, or any other afterschool activity, you may want to support that group.

The fact that your daughter was "mortified" was due to your being the only parent and not because of your interest in her school. Find out what kind of involvement her friends' parents have. It is fairly typical that middle school children would prefer if their parents were not seen in public. Don't be alarmed. Keep telling your daughter that you are interested in everything about her, and show her your support.

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After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.

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