Getting parents to get involved with the PTO/PTA and other school activities has never been easy. However, in the past couple years it has become harder than ever before. We set out to find exactly why this was and what can be done to change this trend and increase parent involvement.
It is no secret that parents today are busier than ever before. Often in addition to having two full time jobs, parents are also stretched thin driving kids all over town for sports and activities, helping with homework, cooking meals and also taking care of the house. It is easy to see why parents are understandably hesitant to get involved.
The year 2020 did no favors for the current low levels of parent involvement. In most cases, parents were not allowed to help at school for the entire year, or longer. Parents who typically helped at school got use to no longer being needed. Many of these parents did not return to their volunteer roles once they were allowed back in the classroom.
Now that we have explored why parent involvement is at an all time low, let's look into what can be done. We talked with a wide variety of PTO/PTA presidents and complied a list of the best ideas to try to increase parent involvement at your school.
1. Make volunteering feasible for even the busiest parents.
- Make volunteer shifts shorter (many working parents can spare an hour in the day but not four)
- Provide opportunities to just donate money instead of time.
- Find jobs that can be done at home after school hours for working parents and advertise those jobs as being perfect for working parents (putting together raffle baskets, making the school directory that your organization can sell for money, collecting donations )
- Tell homeroom parents and room parents about MyClassroomPARTY to help ease the burden of planning all the classroom parties themselves. Parents can save hours of time by getting everything for the parties planned out and shipped directly to them or the school.
2. Create social media pages (both Facebook and Instagram since some parents are on only one) to keep parents up to date on events and volunteer needs, without filling up their email inbox. Parents already get so many emails from schools, it is hard to have time to read it all and often they go unopened.
3. Have an in-person and a Zoom option for PTO/PTA meetings. This will allow busy parents a chance to stay informed even if they don't have time to attend the meetings. Have the recorded Zoom meeting on the school website to give parents the opportunity to watch when it is convenient for them.
4. Hold a classroom contest to see which classroom can get the most parents signed up to be part of the PTO/PTA. The classroom with the most signed up parents wins a classroom party. The party can be something as simple as a popsicle party or a full out classroom party like this Reward Party that can be delivered to the school.
5. Write a quick email thanking parents each time they volunteer for something. It doesn't have to be long or involved. Just a simple "thank you so much for your time today" goes a long way and makes the parents realize they were needed, and appreciated and more likely to help again.
6. Post on your social media pictures of volunteers having fun together. Sometimes parents get the wrong idea about PTO/PTA and think its just a bunch of extra work. Seeing pictures of members and volunteers bonding, enjoying their time, and helping the school all at the same time will make others want to be part the organization.
There isn't just one answer that will get parents knocking down the school doors to help out. However, we hope that a combination of a few of these ideas will help your organization increase their membership and involvement in the coming year. If you are reading this you are part of the solution and not the problem and for that we thank you. When parents get involved and help out schools, it's a win for everyone.