It can sometimes be a challenge to recruit all the help needed to run a successful parent teacher group with other parents, and keeping PTO/PTA meeting participation up throughout the school year becomes challenging as parents become swamped with other responsibilities along with school fundraising. Here are some tips to increase and maintain parent involvement during the school year.
Provide appropriate resources – Many parents are willing to get more involved when they feel like they have something important to contribute. Ask for their input and see what ideas they have, as well as what type of programs they would like to see implemented and how they would like to contribute time or resources.
Create a custom website – The web is now the first place readers go for information. Create an informative, simple but informative webpage and keep the information updated. The website can be used to inform parents on upcoming fundraisers, advertise school events, and follow the organization and its events. You can ask your school district for a page from the school district’s host page.
Send regular email reminders – Launch an email newsletter to act as a continuous reminder to parents and staff. Parents juggle a lot on their plates and it’s possible that their lack of involvement can be remedied by gentle reminders on the organization’s needs and goals. Use email as a way to update parents on past and future events, request new volunteers and ideas, and send out links for helpful/relevant websites.
Be kind – This seems obvious, but many parents end up feeling that PTO/PTA groups ostracize those who aren’t involved regularly and end up feeling like they should avoid the group because of its clique-like nature. Make sure the most active members of the organization go out of their way to welcome new members and engage them. If a parent shows interest or offers an idea, support them and give them the tools they need to make it happen, as opposed to trying to micro-manage them.
Publish a newsletter – If email isn’t an option, or if you want additional information circulating, consider publishing a weekly or monthly newsletter to keep school families updated. Include fundraising and social events, activities in the community, school news, etc. You can also include important school dates and holidays. If you want to go above and beyond, ask local businesses to offer coupons or discounts to include in the newsletter.
Advertise – Think of the parent teacher organization as any other business that needs to get the word out about what it offers. Advertise for special events and programs, fundraisers, school needs, and the need for volunteers. This can be accomplished by sending flyers home, making free-standing signs where parents drop off students, using word-of-mouth, leaving phone messages, and sending out email.