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Ideas for Parent involvement with PTO


julcan_79 August 4, 2009

We had our first PTO meeting last night for the new school year, and unfortunately we had no parents (other than those elected as officers) show up.   This is the same response we have gotten for the last 2 years.   We have cut the activities that PTO supports almost in half.  If we don't get any involvement from other parents, our school will no longer have the PTO as the few of us can't do everything.  Does anyone have any ideas on what to do? 

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Janette August 6, 2009

OK, you have a serious problem here.

Honestly, if you want the group to continue, the few parents that are still involved need to get on the phone and start calling every single parent. You need to ask every single parent WHAT (not if) he/she is willing to do to help the PTO.

If she says she will help with making treats for the school dance, then two weeks before the dance you need to call her and TELL her she needs to bring two dozen brownies (or whatever).

It also helps to have a list of projects that need to be done. Then the parent can decide what he/she wants to do.

If you are looking for greater attendance at PTO meetings, here are some ideas:

1. Offer a simple dinner (hot dogs and chips, maybe)
2. Have a guest speaker on topics relevant to parents (perhaps someone who can discuss the standardized test scores).
3. Ask the Socuts to provide free babysitting on site.
4. Have the school choir sing or have a Scout group present the colors and lead the Pledge.


spottsmom August 7, 2009

your problem sounded a lot like ours did in the school i was on the PTA board in California. most of our meetings were the board and a few others that had been previous officers on the board, but not many more than that. we ended up calling an emergency PTA meeting that needed as many parents as possible. we made sure that we (board members) made a list of all of the important things we did for the school, included upcoming events and how much money the PTA brought into the school to fund the activities. at the meeting we offered free babysitting (and of course we let the parents know ahead of time so that they could plan to bring their children if it was necessary) and we served cookies and punch. we simply let the parents know that due to the lack of help we were getting from the parents that there was a possibility of having no PTA the following year. we informed them of what activities the children would be missing out on and let them know that they don't have to put hours upon hours into volunteering, a little bit of time from several parents would help us out tremendously. we also let them know what our ideas and plans were for the following year so they could see how much more we wanted to do for the children and their families. after a short time, we had more parents coming to us before and after school giving us their phone numbers and names so we could call them and include them in the activities. some could only help out a little bit here and there, others helped out more than we could have imagined. i hope things work out for you with this, i'd hate to see there be no PTA or PTO in your child's school. good luck! :)


ostafford August 7, 2009

One of the best ways to get parents involved is by working with each classroom room parents. In the beginning of the school year when a parent volunteers to be a room parent and that person collects their classroom parent's contact information (usually at Back to School Night), the room parent can be the point of contact for the PTA. The PTA can email PTA minutes and other events information to pass along to the parents in their classrooms. (Yes - sometimes we have had ineffective room parents). I have learned that the majority of parents do help out if you provide what is needed to them a little at a time. Don't be discouraged just because people do not attend the meetings. Due to my work schedule I could never attend any meetings during the afternoon or evenings. This of course did not stop me from co-chairing events at my children's elementary school. Good Luck!


md2mom August 9, 2009

Our HSA (Home School Association - same as PTA or PTO) has increased attendance at the meetings by having performances by the children of the school (you have to go if your child is performing!) and having children do readings of papers or special projects and the like. Sometimes the band plays or the kids sing or someone who won a prize for a contest reads their winning essay or the like.

They also have offered a kind of raffle. My kids go to a private school so the prize for the raffle (based on attendance of ALL the meetings) was a free month of tuition, but you could have other prizes. Maybe free school lunch, or whatever would tempt people to come.

I also know of a public school in our area that greatly increased attendance by holding special events with experiments in math and science called family fun nights. It was very hands on and fun for the kids too. If you can get the kids involved and interested, then they will drag the parents there.


auburnnancy August 11, 2009

I think this is a simple answer. You have higher percentages of parents like me...older, running a business or managing a high powered career and because we waited to have kids, we don't want to spend a moment of non-work time without them. I used to complain at my daughter's old school about the meeting times. If I don't get home from work until 6pm and then I wolf down dinner and get to the school by 7 and get home after kid's bedtime, I essentially missed an entire day with them. If you try meetings at 8:30, there are plenty of parents that still have energy then. Or try rotating meetings between early and later to see if you get new people.

I was very involved in my daughter's old school, but they knew it was on my terms; I never once attended a PTO meeting. I'm artistic, so I designed the monthly bulletin boards at night after the kids were asleep. I used my entertainment biz connections to get the school great deals on assemblies that normally cost 4-5 times more. We selected a "platform", in our case the Arts, and set aside a small allowance each month for the school to pool and spend on Arts supplies. And all it took was someone asking in a brief survey, what times could I do something and were there specific areas of greatest concern to me or were there things in my work that could be leveraged to benefit the school.

I'm lousy in the kitchen, so to be asked to bake a batch of cookies for a sale that's going to yield $20 in profit, that just stresses me out. But look on my profile and send me an email saying you need funds to bring some great dance troupe or multicultural music event and workshop, and I'll hit paypal and send you the $40 you ask for. Or maybe for another parent, it's $30 for improved tech at the school or for others it's Making the school more Green. My point is, every parent wants to do more, but you have to know what to ask and when.


kmg6871 August 11, 2009

It can be very challenging getting parents to go to the school for PTO nights because of careers, schedules and so forth. Our school has there PTO accomodated with dinner for the working parent as well as entertainment from the school choir, which is normally 1 or 2 songs while eating. They start at 6.30 and we are finished by 8.30 that evening. The class that gets the most parents to come wins a pizza party. These incentives have helped alot with the parents meeting up to the challenge not just for the parent but for the child. I also volunteer as a room parent and that also helps keep me posted with everything going on. Get involved! it's important for our children.


Mari5210 August 12, 2009

Our organization is called the PTA here in TN. What we do is have an assembly where one grade level puts on a play(the music teacher is the one who handles this and alot of the times it is a skit, a dance or song performance, or it could be all of the mentioned) for their parents each month. The grade level parents have to come and see their child perform! The kids just shine and they do a great job and have so much fun getting to perform for their parents and friends. The PTA meeting is 30 minutes before the performance so we can have our meeting and the kids all meet in the music room and get prepared for their performances. We usually give out a door prize and get to meet the parents and ask them to join our PTA and pay a $5 fee for their joining. We do have a very large number of parents who join and participate in our fund raising activities. The teacher with the most parents to sign in get a gift certificate for school supplies, which is greatly appreciated and the class with the most parents joining get to have a pizza party and a movie. We do popcorn and movie parties for our kids too(elementary). They just love getting to do this. We have prizes to give out for different levels of participation too. At different times the ones who have the most(usually 3 sells) items turned in for a fund raising drive gets to spin the wheel for prizes. This in anywhere from candy, stuffed animals, or money. The kids just love doing this. It takes work on our part, but is also makes the kids so happy knowing that they are helping our school get new computers and a new track. I hope that this helped you in some way! I have been in PTA for 6 years and have enjoyed it tremendously!


TeacherParent August 17, 2009

What are the everythings that you do? In any case, speaking as a parent and a teacher, I found the PTO did nice little things for teachers and nice little things for the children like Secret Santa but had No involvement with the school on a more meaningful level than that. It did some fundraising to buy the nice little things for teachers but I often wondered - if each parent or close to would chip in $15.00 - $25.00 at the beginning of the year - that was about what we raised as a PTO but it took So much work to do it.

The idea of asking for money outright was actually a suggestion we received from a parent when we wrote a letter asking her to volunteer. She sent us back a letter with a check for her PTO dues plus 25 dollars and said that was what her daughter made in the last year selling giftwrap. Rather than have her daughter selling giftwrap again, she'd rather chip in up front.

But the single meeting we had about curriculum and the other meeting we had about playground behavior - both of those had overflow attendance. What issues does your PTO attend to? I think with both parents working outside the home and working long hours at that - and in hard times - people are just too tired to join in on the fundraising efforts that go to what? In our school we gave teachers a $25 dollar gift certificate every year and sent cards when they were sick or lost a loved one.

But those two meetings we had on playground behavior and curriculum brought parents out - they wanted their voices to be heard and they wanted to hear what others had to say. Parents are still ready and willing to help if it's an issue of substance.

For example, how heavy are the children's backpacks in your school? There are now established figures as to weight limit set by pediatricians for how much weight young children should be carrying.
What kind of lunches are served in your school's cafeteria? Are they healthy?
Parents Care about those issues and parents need an organization that will help them communicate their thoughts and ideas to the school administrators. Unless your school is on the cutting edge, there is usually a great deal of room for improvement in every school and if your PTO will actively work toward school improvement, you'll likely find parents are willing to work with you.


auburnnancy August 17, 2009

Here, here. Well said. As a working parent, I get a little annoyed by all the "fluffy" events that fund things that don't appear to be substantive and having students sell things tends to detract from educational and enrichment endeavors. I want the teachers to feel appreciated, but I have to believe they'll feel more appreciated by a supportive parent body that gives them financial support for materials, equipment or assemblies and gives input on real issues...than they do from a breakfast and a gift.


Mari5210 August 17, 2009

Our PTA bought each class a new computer last year. Some of us worked really hard for those computers too. We did have some fund raisers also. We have put in a new playground with new playground equipment, built a track, built a covered shed with tables for the classes to be able to have outdoor activities, and put in a gazeboo. All of this has been done with PTA funds during the 4 years I was in it. Yes, we do get tired of selling stuff, but the school system does not furnish alot of the stuff that the teachers and students need. We also give our teachers cash for their rooms. They have to pay for their copies and are very limited on the amount that they can do monthly. I have found that parents do not want to just give cash, nor do they want to give their time to the school. It is s select few who do these tasks, but we get to hear the ones who do nothing gripe and complain.

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