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What Is a School Open House?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 16, 2024
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A school open house is usually an evening function that allows parents and guardians to visit their child's school. Parents have the opportunity to speak with teachers about their child's progress, needs, and abilities. Students generally get to show their parents around their school and classrooms, informing them of activities, projects, and assignments they have completed. A school open house is usually organized by teachers, parents, principals, and district administrators, and funded by district budgets, money from previous fund raisers, or parent-teacher associations.

The main objective of most school open houses is to allow teachers and parents to meet and discuss issues regarding students. Instructors may explain their teaching styles and their methods of monitoring student behavior and progress in class. An interested parent might point out to teachers some facts about his or her child's behavioral problems, academic struggles, or learning style in hopes of developing a more individualized teaching plan. Positive results are likely when teachers and parents work together to identify students' needs and implement strategies to meet them.

It is common for children to accompany their parents or guardians to school open house functions. Students have the chance to explain their daily activities and give their parents tours of their classrooms. Many students, especially those in elementary school, prepare classrooms for open house functions by decorating the room and displaying artwork, science projects, and other assignments. A school open house can be a great way for parents to better understand the average school day through the eyes of their children.

Many open houses feature presentations and booths for parents to find out more about student clubs, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Teachers, coaches, and community members explain different options parents have for enrolling their children in various events and activities. School personnel might promote after-school programs or childcare services, and help parents determine the costs for such services.

A school open house can be an opportunity to raise awareness about the financial or material needs of a school or community. When a district budget is tight, it is usually up to parent-teacher associations and compassionate community members to find the funds necessary to keep programs such as physical education, music, and library access intact. Parents and teachers can use open house events as a means of informing others about school and community needs, and promoting events like book fairs, food drives, and car washes to secure the necessary funds.

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Discussion Comments
By Mammmood — On Sep 11, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - Yeah, there are a lot of open house activities for elementary school that teachers can use to open up a dialogue between the teachers and the parents.

At one function I attended, this teacher taught reading and writing. She wanted us to understand her approach to the writing process, so she took a completely interactive approach. She gave us all a pencil and paper and took us through a fifteen minute mini workshop, if you will, where she had us free write and then draft a simple personal story composition, no longer than one page in length.

A few parents volunteered to read their compositions to the class, and it was a fun time for everyone. I think that was the best thing the teacher could have done to help us understand how she taught her subject.

By SkyWhisperer — On Sep 10, 2011

@Charred - I think a school open house is great for parents and teachers alike. However, teachers bear the brunt of the pressure.

I can tell you this from experience. I taught in an elementary school setting for four years, and preparing for the open house was one of the most nerve wracking experiences of my teaching career.

The reason is that parents are very demanding, and I mean that in a good way. Furthermore, parents are quite educated about what’s going on in the educational world, I’ve found. So if you try to slip some new educational buzz word by them and it doesn’t sit well with them, they may challenge you on it.

You have to be very forthcoming about the approaches you use to teach. You can find ideas for school open house activities that will help break the ice a little and make the evening a pleasant and cordial one for parents and teachers alike.

By Charred — On Sep 09, 2011

I’ve attended a few school open house functions for both of my kids when they were in elementary school.

However, I have rarely taken the kids with me. I was never clear on that point, but when I showed up most parents had not taken their kids either. I guess it’s up to the parent.

Usually we’d be given a brief presentation by the teacher about what they have been teaching the kids so far, in addition to getting a glimpse into the teacher’s teaching style.

Later we had the chance to meet the teachers and ask questions about our kids and see portfolio samples of their work.

It was a very instructive time. I think what was most important for me was to be able to put faces to the names of the teachers my kids kept telling me about.

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