There are lots of reasons to become a PTO leader, in particular helping the kids and working to create a better school community. But there’s more to it than that. Here’s a look at some of the key ways parents make a difference, and some specific ways you can have the most impact.
Decades of research have shown that when parents are involved in their children’s education, kids are more likely to:
• Earn better grades
• Score higher on tests
• Pass their classes
• Attend school regularly
• Have better social skills
• Show improved behavior
• Be more positive in their attitude toward school
• Complete homework assignments
• Graduate and continue their education
Get the word out to parents at your school by sharing this 2-minute video on why parent involvement matters (also available in Spanish). Play it at your back-to-school night or as parents wait for another school event to begin.
How To Maximize the Benefits
PTOs and PTAs have a unique role to play in building parent involvement. Your group can encourage greater involvement in education by building a sense of community at your school and helping parents become more familiar with the school’s academic programs.
First, help parents feel comfortable at school. Communicate frequently with parents—in person, by newsletter or email, and on Facebook—and let them know how to get in touch with parent group leaders. Line up volunteers to give school tours to new families. Mingle after meetings. Hold fun family events that draw moms and dads to school and leave them feeling positive about it.
Then, connect parents with volunteer opportunities. Tell parents about what your PTO or PTA does, how students and the school benefit, and how they can become involved. Most parents’ schedules will be packed at back-to-school time, so emphasize that your group has volunteer tasks that won’t take up too much of their time. Consider a volunteer pledge program like PTO Today’s 2 Hour Power, which asks parents to volunteer for just two hours during the school year.
Finally, support school goals (academic and other). Talk to the principal about his goals for the school year and how your parent group can help. If the school is focusing on improving math scores, you might plan a family math night or a session for parents on how math education has changed since their school days. If kids need more options at recess, you might paint hopscotch squares or buy new jump ropes. Be sure to tell parents about how you’ve supported school goals in ways big and small; they’ll be more likely to support fundraisers and volunteer if they can see that their participation really makes a difference.