(before school starts)
Prepare a welcome packet: Fill it with useful information about the school, PTO events, and how to get involved. Include:
- What the PTO does
- Officer email addresses and phone numbers
- Scheduled events
- Volunteer sign-up form
- Parent interest survey
Hold a back-to-school fair: Welcome families and help them get organized for the new school year.
- Give tours to families new to the school.
- Don’t push too strongly for involvement, but mention some of the key things the PTO does.
- Sell spiritwear.
- Hand out the welcome packet.
Update the PTO bulletin board: Highlight past accomplishments and give contact information.
- Provide an overview of what the PTO does.
- Display photos of parents and kids having fun at PTO events.
- Highlight an upcoming event.
(after school starts)
Ice-cream social: Start the year off with family fun and connect with parents.
- Parents and students make name tags indicating the grade level and teacher’s name.
- Parents receive the welcome packet, if they haven’t gotten it already.
- The PTO collects parent contact information, including email addresses.
First PTO meeting: Running the meeting efficiently shows parents that the group is well-organized.
- Greeters welcome parents as they arrive.
- Officers introduce themselves and avoid any insider talk.
- Child care is provided so more parents can attend.
Parent interest survey: A good survey helps match volunteers to roles.
- Gather information on parents’ skills, interests, and availability.
- Emphasize that all help is welcome, whether for one hour or 10.
- Follow up promptly by email with parents who say they would like to get involved.
Coffee with the principal: Give parents a chance to talk with the principal in a casual setting.
- Greeters thank parents for coming.
- The PTO provides coffee and doughnuts.
- A door prize can help draw more attendees.
Everyone Loves a Fun Family Night
Fall fundraiser: Held after the PTO has been able to connect with parents.
- Get parents on board by sharing how the money will benefit the school.
- Publicize the results of the fundraiser and thank volunteers.
- If possible, take photos to show how the money raised is being used, then publish them in the newsletter and post them on the bulletin board.
Family movie night: A low-cost event that’s just for fun. (Get a free Family Movie Night planning kit from PTO Today.)
- Before the movie starts, highlight upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.
- Recognize the popcorn poppers, AV wizards, and all other volunteers.
Spaghetti dinner: A free family event that helps build a sense of community.
- Have a short meeting first to share the PTO’s goals and accomplishments.
- Publicly thank all the behind-the-scenes volunteers.
Flyer distribution/email blast: Family schedules fill up fast around the holidays, so ask parents now to save the date for events.
- Tell parents about all the activities coming up in the next few months.
- Include the PTO website address and how to subscribe to the email newsletter or listserv.
Book bingo and book fair: A free family event that promotes literacy.
- Attendance is free with donation of a gently used children’s book; these books can be given as bingo prizes or donated to another organization.
- Families can buy a low-cost dinner at the event.
- Kids can pick out new books at the book fair.
Spirit night at local restaurant: A fun way for families to socialize outside of school.
- Ask a few teachers to make an appearance.
- Plug upcoming family events.
Parent Involvement Day (Nov. 18): Offer parents low-pressure volunteer opportunities.
- Invite parents to help out that day in the classroom, in the cafeteria, or on the playground. Take a “class picture” of the volunteers and give out certificates of appreciation.
- Write a newsletter article or send home a letter asking parents to pledge to volunteer at least two hours for the school during the year.
- Emphasize volunteer jobs that people can do outside of school hours and from home.
- Provide donated food and plan a performance by students to draw more parents.
- Share meeting minutes and any major decisions from the meeting by email or online.
Winter coat drive: Collect coats, hats, and mittens to keep kids warm over the winter months.
- Help build school spirit.
- Teach students about giving back.
- Show parents that the PTO is about helping others.
Parents’ day off: Provide an afternoon of child care so parents can do holiday shopping.
- Ask high school students needing volunteer hours to lead younger students in games.
- Provide materials for kids to make their own holiday cards.
- Show an age-appropriate movie.
Breakfast with Santa
- Dads take charge of a pancake breakfast.
- Children take photos with Santa.
- Families can shop for gifts from local businesses that rent booths or at a holiday shop sponsored by the PTO.
Roller-skating night: Families enjoy a night at the roller rink with discounted fees.
- Ease parents and students back into the school routine after the holiday break.
- The PTO builds its reputation as a fun group.
Mid-year review: Try to connect with more families.
- Look through volunteer sign-up forms and parent interest surveys again.
- Follow up with those who haven’t been called.
- Invite a speaker to talk about preparing for college or another topic of interest to parents.
Multicultural night: A community-building and educational family event.
- Reach out to families from other countries.
- Attendees learn about different cultures.
- Families share foods from around the world at a potluck dinner.
- Recognize all volunteers since the beginning of the year with student-made valentines and plenty of chocolate.
- Start thinking about who might consider running for a PTO office.
- Lay the groundwork for nominations.
Read Across America Day: Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ March 2 birthday with a reading night for families. (Get a free Family Reading Night planning kit from PTO Today.)
- Invite guest readers from the community.
- Hold a birthday party for Dr. Seuss.
- Give parents tips to promote reading at home.
Canned food drive: Collect donations for a local pantry.
- Provide a pizza party for the class that collects the most food.
- Invite the local newspaper to take pictures of the collected goods.
- Register the food drive at SchoolsServe.org to be part of the national tally.
- Plan a presentation on child Internet safety. (Get a free Internet Safety Night planning kit from PTO Today.)
- Finalize nominees for PTO board members and committee chairpeople.
- Hold elections.
School work day: Build school spirit with a little spring cleaning and landscaping.
- Have projects for people of all ages.
- Take before-and-after photos and post them on the bulletin board and website.
- Serve sandwiches and cookies to volunteers as a thank-you.
New family outreach
- Invite parents of incoming students to a PTO meeting or event.
- Share information about family activities and school traditions.
Staff appreciation: Find ways for working parents to participate.
- Invite parents and students to write thank-you notes to teachers.
- Arrange for parents to bring special treats for the break room.
- Hold an awards ceremony with silly prizes for best dressed, celebrity look-alike, etc.
Volunteer appreciation: A genuine, personal thank-you will keep volunteers coming back.
- Plan a special event for parent volunteers.
- Send a letter to the local newspaper thanking volunteers.
- Create a tree out of butcher paper in the school hallway, with leaves bearing the name of each volunteer.
- Print photos and bios of the new PTO officers.
- Review the PTO’s accomplishments.
- Thank everyone for a great year.