My school, like many, hosts an Open House (or Meet the Teacher) night before school begins. After working at a school that didn't offer this for the first 7 years I was there, I really appreciate its importance for helping students (and teachers) get over those first day jitters.
5 stress-free tips for success:
1. It's okay if your classroom doesn't look perfect (gasp!!!). With too much to look at and experience, things can get pretty chaotic. Scarce bulletin boards and displays give more of a sense of serenity...the chaos can come later!
2. Have all back to school paperwork ready for parents to take home. I put mine in labeled folders at their new seat, so each family can find it easily. This eliminates that headache (for you, parents, and kids) of keeping track of all those forms the first day of school. If time isn't an issue, I ask parents to fill them out right there while their kids are exploring the classroom.
3. Have your volunteer lists ready to go (sorry no picture for this). I write each volunteer activity (holiday parties, daily helpers, field trip chaperones, etc.) on a different color construction paper with columns for names, phone numbers, and email. I tell parents they are required to volunteer on at least one paper. This does not mean they have to attend (work schedules aren't always flexible for families), but that they may be willing to supply something for the event. Every year I have at least one parent who loves to organize, so I leave a spot at the top for a parent to sign up as party coordinator. This way I don't have to worry about planning a Halloween party at the same time I'm planning report cards and parent/teacher conferences, for example.
4. Let students see their names...everywhere! Students want to feel welcome and part of a class. To help out, I put their names on their seats, folders, and on my word wall. If students come to open house that weren't on my original class list, I have them help me add their names (always have extra seats and supplies on hand).
5. Finally, what better way to get them started than with a "survival kit". I put these notes in a sandwich bag with all the goodies listed in the poem (life saver, eraser, penny, bandage, star sticker, tissue, and sticker). Parents and kids love to go home with this little goody, and it takes very little time and money to put together. I have survival kits for kindergarten through third grade. Click on the link to check them out. Survival Kits
All this said, I hope your open house is a success. Have a wonderful school year!