Getting parents connected to the school is the most important and, in many ways, most difficult job parent groups undertake. There are many facets to building involvement, and it requires a focused effort. Take our quiz to get an idea of how your group stacks up. For each question, choose the answer that best fits your group and score the number of points listed next to your answer.
1. The school year has just begun. Your first correspondence with parents most likely will be:
A welcome packet with information about your school and group (3)
A newsletter with dates and upcoming activities (1)
A flyer announcing the fall fundraiser (-1)
2. New families at your school are:
Oriented right away to the school and your group. Your group holds a big welcome event or has a family buddy system to let them know how to get involved at school (3)
Given contact names and information for each board officer (2)
Encouraged to come to meetings to see how they can get involved (1)
3. When a parent complains about the lack of information regarding your parent group's activities at school, you:
Kindly share your group's website, newsletter, and officers' email addresses with her (3)
Encourage the parent to come to a meeting if she feels left out of the loop (1)
Chalk up the complaint as no big deal; it's only one parent, after all (-1)
4. Attendance at your last two family events this year has not been as high as it was last year. Your group figures:
It should send out a survey to parents asking for suggestions or ideas for other events (3)
More communication is needed in advertising the events through your website, newsletter, flyers, etc. (1)
The events are not worth the effort and will probably cancel plans for future ones (-1)
5. The same four volunteers have run your spring carnival for five years. Two new faces announce that they would like to take it over this year. Your group:
Puts them in touch with your carnival committee so they can share their ideas (3)
Informs the newbies that you could really use their help elsewhere (1)
Tells them the committee is all set with carnival volunteers this year and to check back next year (-1)
6. Your newbie auction chair has at least 10 questions for your board every time you meet. You've explained all of her duties to her, but she still requires major hand-holding. You:
Remind her of that trusty procedure binder or partner her with a seasoned auction veteran until she's more secure in her role (3)
Advise her to go over last year's meeting minutes and financial records to find out how last year's chair managed (1)
Let her figure it out; it's not rocket science! (-1)
Tell her that she's taken on too much and that one of your board members will take over from here (-1)
7. When it comes to thanking your volunteers, your group:
Takes the time to personally thank all who help out with your events and programs (3)
Personally thanks only those who do the most or best work (1)
Thanks people with a general thanks to everyone who helped out but doesn't make much of an effort at personal thank-yous (-1)
8. When you do hold family events at school, such as family fun nights, you charge how much for admission?
Nothing; they're free (3)
Just enough to cover costs—a dollar or two (2)
Enough to make a profit (0)
9. How well do you reach out beyond your core group? Give yourself two points for each of these that your group has:
A male officer or committee chair (2)
A dads' club (2)
A grandparent or guardian as an officer or committee chair (2)
A committee chair or officer who speaks English as a second language (2)
Newsletters and flyers regularly translated into a second language (2)
10. Is someone specific in your group assigned the responsibility of building involvement?
Yes, we have an involvement committee (3)
Yes, we have an involvement coordinator (1)
Give yourself one point for each of the following that your group has:
Greeters at every event who are responsible for welcoming newcomers (1)
Nametags required at every meeting (1)
Officers' personal contact information on all correspondence to families (1)
Adults-only nights out organized and publicized by your group (1)
Total possible points: 41, including extra credit
Above 30: Excellent
You have a strong understanding of what makes involvement grow, and your group is focused on best practices. Continuing to welcome and empower parents will keep your group energized.
21-30: Very good
You have good practices in place to build involvement. Continue to make personal approaches to potential volunteers, reach out to the entire school community and not just your core group, and treat people with respect and appreciation.
11-20: On the right track
Your group does some good things to build involvement. Consider creating an involvement committee if you don't have one. Assigning people to focus just on that important task can really help your efforts.
0-10: Need more focus
A more concentrated effort on involvement will add strength and vitality to your group. Start by making sure your day-to-day contact with parents is friendly and personal—and not always about fundraising.
Below 0: Time to rethink your involvement efforts
It's easy to get caught up in the tasks and activities involved in running a parent group. But making the effort to build involvement can make everything easier.
Do it again
Keep this quiz and take it again at the end of the year to assess your progress. Pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses can help you make strides quickly.