PTO Today

Helping Parent Leaders Make Schools Great

PTO Today Blog

Ideas, news, opinions and tips about what’s happening in the parent group world

Get Helpful Resources for Your Parents at

September 22nd, 2014 by

Parents often look to PTO and PTA leaders for help that goes beyond the typical parent group job description. While topics like homework, family meals, after-school activities, and work-life balance aren’t covered in the bylaws, it is nice to be able to provide parents with resources when you can.

One of your best bets for parent resources is our sister site,, which has a collection of articles and free printables that parents will find useful for themselves and their kids.

Here are some examples: Printables. has hundreds of worksheets that parents can use to help their children with a variety of academic areas, including math, literacy, science, and geography.

There are also dozens of coloring pages parents can download so their children can take a break from work and just have fun.  PTO and PTA leaders can download coloring pages and keep copies on had for meetings. They are a great way to keep young children occupied when they attend meetings with their parents.

The printables section also includes family chore and organization charts and documents, which come in handy when trying to keep the whole family on track during the school year. also has hundreds of articles on the topics that concern parents most, like homework, bullying, helping kids with learning challenges, and working with teachers.

Finally, the Health &Well-Being  section addresses topics that seem to challenge us all: managing hectic lifestyles.

So, the next time parents are seeking help from you, keep in mind!  We’ve also been collecting resources for parents on our PTO Today


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Looking for Your Next Great Idea?

September 18th, 2014 by

Are you looking for new ideas for your next event, fundraiser, or teacher appreciation effort?

We take a lot of pride in the many tips and suggestions you’ll find in our articles and other resources on But did you know our Idea Bag section is chock-full of great ideas, many of them simple and easy to execute, for a huge variety of topics? We just recently posted ideas ranging from a “camping”-theme celebration for teacher appreciation and a really fun-sounding International Game Night to one school’s effort to spread the word to as many people as possible in its diverse community about its big annual event.

The best part? The ideas are reader-submitted or based on information directly from parent groups (like submissions to our Parent Group of the Year search)—which means they’ve all been tested and approved.

The next time you need some quick inspiration, give Idea Bag a look. Chances are, you’ll find a spark there. And when you have your next great idea at




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How To Be a Clique in One Simple Step

September 17th, 2014 by

Do parents outwardly or subtly think of your PTO or PTA as a clique? Most of the parent leaders I know are quite open to help, but their habits sometimes earn them an unintended clique reputation.

For example, did your group or school recently ask parents to fill out forms to determine their interest or availability? If so, here’s a great way to get that clique name: Put those forms into a drawer and don’t contact the moms and dads who offered to help.

In my experience, PTOs and PTAs do this because they are rushed or busy or trying to get hard stuff done quickly, and existing volunteers and old regulars are so much easier to connect with and count on than newbies. It’s not “we don’t want your help”; rather it’s, “we were so busy just trying to survive that we forgot to do the work necessary to actually get new help.” But to an outsider, that comes across as cliquey.

My advice: Assign one volunteer whose singular job is to attract, communicate with, and help new volunteers. Make sure every single person who checked the “yes” box on your volunteer form gets a personal contact from your PTO. You say you want help. Now you need to prove it.

I have more to say about avoiding a clique reputation in my column called “The Truth About Cliques.” And we have a lot of good information on getting new help on our volunteers topic page.

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Duct-Taping the Principal 101

September 15th, 2014 by

We’re betting some brand-new parents who have heard about principals getting duct-taped to walls are wondering why on earth anyone would do this. Turns out, duct-taping a principal is a pretty cool tradition. It gives the principal a chance to show the school community, especially the students, that she has a fun side. There’s something truly joyful for kids to see the principal, who can be seen as remote and sometimes stern, do something so thoroughly silly as being taped to a wall.


Often, principals promise to get duct-taped if students meet a fundraising goal or other challenge, like reading a certain amount of minutes. Some groups are now doing duct-taping as its own fundraiser, offering students the opportunity to pay a small fee for a strip of duct tape that they can apply to the principal themselves. In fact, we’ve just published a new flyer your group can download and use to promoting a duct-tape fundraising event!

For those PTO and PTA leaders who may be new to this favorite pastime, we wanted to pass along our duct-taping tips that will certainly come in handy.  Have fun, everyone!

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Reed Elementary PTO Wins Readers’ Choice Contest!

September 11th, 2014 by

This week we felt like spectators at the Kentucky Derby as our Readers’ Choice contest came to an amazing finish with Reed Elementary PTO holding on to a small lead and winning our $500 prize.

Prior to its big win, the PTO had been recognized in our 2014 Parent Group of the Year search for its outstanding effort supporting a diverse school community. Lisa Gamboa, Reed’s PTO president, says the community had fun getting out the vote for the Readers’ Choice contest. The PTO distributed flyers, made phone calls, asked area businesses to help get the word out, and “put posters all over town.’’

Our Readers’ Choice contest was on Facebook and generated quite a response. We provided the community with summary stories of the eight category winners and asked people to vote for their favorite group. Nearly 5,800 votes were cast during the two weeks the contest ran!

While Reed took the big prize, Trailridge Elementary PTA in Lee’s Summit, Mo., came in a close second. It also had been recognized in our Parent Group of the Year search for its awesome makeover of the school’s teachers lounge. We awarded this group a $100 well-deserved Readers’ Choice prize.

Congratulations to all the participating groups in this year’s Readers’ Choice contest.

Click here to learn more about our 2014 Parent Group of the Year winners.

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Make Your Group More Fun

September 11th, 2014 by

What do parents think of when asked about your group? Is it all jobs and labor and money and guilt? If so, you are going to struggle to get the help you need to do great work.

Only a rare few parents (maybe you) do this volunteering stuff because it’s the right thing to do, no matter how grueling it is. For most parents and for the long term, volunteers need to get something out of volunteering. No — not pay. But the volunteering needs to pay off in other ways, like friendships and a feeling of accomplishment and — yes — fun.

If volunteering for your group means more drudgery than fun, if there aren’t a bunch of good laughs in the process, or if your leadership takes things too seriously — then you’ll forever be fighting to get new volunteers and to keep the ones you have. And don’t think of it as a low priority; it’s actually a necessary ingredient to doing all your great work for the long term.

How can your group lighten up and make volunteering more fun? I’d love to hear your ideas on our message boards or our Facebook page. And here’s my full column on the topic from a few years back: “Is Your PTO Fun Enough?

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Share’s Fall Art Contest With Your Parents!

September 9th, 2014 by

Here’s something fun to pass along to your parents: Our sister site just launched a Fall Art Contest. Parents can download fall printables and coloring pages, have their children get creative, snap a photo of the artwork, and upload it to the Fall Art Contest. will award one artist a $50 gift card and the artwork will be featured on its Facebook page. The contest runs from today through Monday, Sept. 22.

Encourage kids to create work with crayons, paint, or whatever they want to work with. It’s always great to see what kids will create! Plus, the printables are a nice way to keep them engaged and learning.

So get the word out to your parents. And good luck to all the young artists!

Click here to enter.

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Enter Labels for Education® $1 Million Giveaway, Win $1,000 for Your School

September 8th, 2014 by

Labels for Education® Grand Stand for SchoolsSM Sweepstakes that will give away $1,000 to 1,000 schools.

Yup. This is a $1 million giveaway! And it is easy to be a part of it. Make sure your school is registered in the Labels for Education program and start collecting UPCs, beverage, and sauce caps. Every participating UPC, beverage, and sauce cap submitted by your coordinator by 12/31/14 equals one entry for your school. You can enter for free and read the rules here.

The sweepstakes is under way now and runs through Dec. 31. Labels for Education will hold a drawing to select the winners in January.

Think how much your group can do for your school with $1,000—and start clipping and submitting UPCs today!

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Get Inspired by Our Winners — and Help Choose the Next One

September 4th, 2014 by

It’s September and around here that means we’ve published the stories of our 2014 Parent Group of the Year winners. I’ve said it before: I love these articles. They prove that success is attainable for all types of parent groups — small, big, rich, and struggling.

This year was no exception in terms of amazing stories. We loved the added twist that we had our first two-time Parent Group of the Year winner — Rosemont Ridge Middle School in West Linn, Ore., which first won 10 years ago.

I hope you’ll read all the 2014 winners’ stories and feel inspired by their awesome events, achievements, and efforts. And for those category winners that really inspire you — you can help one of them win an additional $500 for their school by voting in our Readers’ Choice contest. The contest runs through Sept. 8, so start voting! And remember to spread the word to your community.

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August 28th, 2014 by

We are thrilled to tell you about, the newest School Family Media site! will provide nonprofits like PTOs and PTAs with the resources they need to plan and run restaurant fundraiser nights.

Restaurant fundraisers are a fun and easy way to raise money for your group and build community. It gives families a relaxed way to meet up and parents usually love them because they give them a night off from cooking and help them contribute to the school at the same time.

The new site is designed to give you all the resources you need to successfully run these events. includes listings for dozens of restaurants  throughout the United States that offer fundraising programs. The listings give you a summary of each program and contact information. Restaurants offer different types of fundraising opportunities, so this list will be really useful in figuring out which ones will work best with your group.

The site has a step-by-step article that covers the basics for running a restaurant fundraiser event. It explains how to contact restaurants, work with a local restaurant manager, and create themes for your event. Also, it provide tips on how to promote your fundraiser, which is one of the key elements to making your event a success. To help groups get the word out, the site has free downloadable flyers and invitations that you can customize and use to publicize your night.

We’re really excited about this new venture and believe it will be a great resource for groups. Please follow on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest restaurant fundraising news!

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