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A Year of Great Ideas

Our parent involvement calendar is full of fun ideas and tips for every month of the school year. Use it to help you plan, or follow it event for event!

August
(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.

September
(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.

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October

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.

November

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.

PTO meeting

  • 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.

December

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.

January

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.

PTO meeting

  • Invite a speaker to talk about preparing for college or another topic of interest to parents.

February

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.

PTO meeting

  • Recognize all volunteers since the beginning of the year with student-made valentines and plenty of chocolate.

Cultivate leaders

  • Start thinking about who might consider running for a PTO office.
  • Lay the groundwork for nominations.

March

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.

PTO meeting

April

Leadership transition

  • 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.

May

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.

Final newsletter

  • Print photos and bios of the new PTO officers.
  • Review the PTO’s accomplishments.
  • Thank everyone for a great year.

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