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Yes, you should attend back to school night

Back-to-school night is important, especially for parents of special needs students. Attendance, down nationally, is a unique opportunity to view the classrooms, daily schedules, and teachers through your child’s eyes as he embarks on the new school year.

One night matters

Experts agree that one night can provide the background knowledge parents need to effectively handle or proactively avoid problems that may arise later on.

Relationship building with the teachers and staff begins on this night, and we all know that your investment and interest can encourage them to view your child and you through a more positive light. It’s an easy way to create a good first impression.

The view from his seat

Back to school night also gives insight into details that may become important through the course of the year: the view from his seat, how his classwork--often on display for back-to-school night--compares with typical peers, possible distractions out the window or door and the sense of place the rooms convey through the five senses. Remember to take a peek in the cafeteria, library, music room, gym and meet those specialists, even if you’ve been there in years past.


A word of warning: Don’t overstay your welcome or ask questions about your child’s IEP or related issues. While you may be excited and anxious to share all you can now about your child, recognize this is not the time or place for detailed conversations. Save that for parent-teacher conferences or request a separate meeting at another time.

Opportunities to tour the school and meet the staff without restriction or judgment are rare--so don’t let this one pass you by.

Additional back to school tips can be found here.

Christine M. Riley established Cape Cod Advocate 11 years ago to provide educational consultation and advocacy for children of all ages and disabilities. A certified mediator, she is trained through Wrightslaw and the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN). Christine is a member of National Council of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and Special Needs Advisory Network-Massachusetts (SpaN) and is a former board member of SPaN, FCSN, ISEA and SEAT. This blog is not intended as legal advice nor to take the place of professional consultation. Each child and situation is different. Call or email Cape Cod Advocate for more information.

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