By Carla Olivo, Marine Spouse

There are certain rituals that come this time of year. Depending on where you live, the leaves might begin to change. Football is back on Sunday afternoons! And if you have school age children, you will be attending Back to School Night. As much of a yawn as this night can be, it doesn’t have to be unproductive if you go in with a game plan.

Valuable Opportunity

Back to School Night is actually a valuable opportunity to gather important information about your child’s classroom experience. Typically, the teacher will explain their goals for the year and go over their teaching style and the requirements for a decent grade. You’ll get a good idea of what projects are scheduled throughout the year and what supplies you still need to purchase.

Here are some strategies for getting the most out of Back to School Night.

When asking a question of the teacher, make sure your query is one that will address everyone’s concerns.  Additionally, questions concerning your child in particular are better left in a one-on-one situation.

If you are new to the school, bring a note for the teacher about your child. This is a chance to let the teacher know what makes your child tick. Describe your kid’s personality, prior academic challenges and any areas of concern you may have. The teacher can digest the information on their own time without the pressure of having to deal with other parents’ concerns in the Back to School Night setting.

Some good general questions to ask:

  • What is the policy on late work, absences, and homework?
  • How do these affect the student’s grade?
  • How can I check what homework is assigned? You will want to know how much homework is assigned each night and how it is evaluated.
  • How is my child’s progress reported to me?
  • Does the teacher prefer a call or email with questions?
  • May I volunteer in the classroom?
  • Are there field trips throughout the school year?

Your Child’s Point of View

Many times you will be asked to sit at your child’s desk. This will give you the chance to see the classroom from your child’s point of view. This also gives teachers the chance to mentally match parents with students. Additionally, if your student is easily distracted, you may ask to have their desk moved away from the window or closer to the front.

You will also have the opportunity to look at the textbooks your student is using and any quizzes or artwork that have been created since the start of school.

You want to come away with a good overview of your child’s typical school day while building that all important home-school connection. Be proactive when it comes to contacting your child’s teachers. For military kids, changing schools every couple of years can be a bit disruptive. But as an involved parent, you can help your student make that transition leading to success in the classroom. is a review platform exclusively for military  and veteran families. Leave a review of your prior duty station and read the reviews of where you are PCSing to. Home is where the military sends us and together we can make a difference!

Carla Olivo has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children. You can follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.

Carla Olivo

Director of Strategic Communications