Your child’s school open house can be an emotional experience. Here’s how to get through it.
It is coming up soon — the one night of the year when you are invited into your child’s classroom. It’s their home away from home for five days each week, 180 days out of the year. You finally get to see where they sit, which friends sit near them, what cute works of art that they have created, and most importantly, you get a small glimpse into what their world is like whenever you are not around. Open houses are a great opportunity to connect with their teacher and feel good about their educational environment.
This can bring about some mixed emotions though. Your child’s open house can fill you with hope and anxiety. You hope that their teacher is ideal for them. That they have the patience to manage the energy of so many little ones as well as the insight into how to help your child blossom and learn. Then it happens. There is the anxiety… You may worry that they may not have the tools to be the teacher that you have hoped for. You may be concerned that your child would need them to be compassionate when they are having a difficult time or struggling to understand the material. Will the teacher comfort them in a way that works? Will they call you if they just need their mommy or daddy? These concerns are valid, but likely only answered with trust.
Trusting your child’s teacher is one of the most difficult challenges a parent must face. Here are a few tips that may help you and the teacher survive the night.
First, be patient. Most teachers give a presentation on what their teaching style is and what they are looking for from your child. They are usually very nervous presenting to so many parents. Please have compassion for them. They are used to a much smaller audience.
Second, prepare for the experience. Write down some of the questions that you would like to ask, but remember that it is a general-question forum, not specific to your child. Prioritize your needs and only ask the most important question that you have and allow other parents to participate. Afterwards, please do feel free to email the teacher with your follow-up and child-specific questions. It will make it less awkward for the teacher and the judgmental parents will not roll their eyes at you.
Most importantly, this evening is a great opportunity to be brave. Socialize with the parents of the other children in the class. It is likely that they will be a part of your family’s life for quite some time. It is reassuring to maintain a relationship with the other parents, especially when you have concerns about the school. They can be a great sounding board. Also, it makes arranging play dates so much easier when you like the parents of your child’s friends.
If you do want to just walk around and observe everything, please do. There is no pressure to do anything at all. It only matters that you attend. This way when your child tells you about their school day, you can picture what they are talking about. Savor the story. They are only little and cute for such a short period of time. You both deserve to enjoy it.
Michael Uram, MA, LMFT, LPCC, is the CEO of Uram Family Therapy in Orange County. The team of therapists use the latest evidence-based treatments for anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD and Asperger’s. For more info, please visit uramfamilytherapy.com