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What do you do to get more parents involved?

17 years 1 month ago #133765 by dlf
My philosophy has always been "Communicate, communicate, communicate". We get the parents emails and email them weekly on the things happening at the school, not just requests for stuff. We send out an 8 page newsletter per month that is posted on our website at brentpto.com. We keep the website up to date, and post pertinent information there. But truly the emails seem to be the gelling factor to our group. I always include a little personal information and sign it with my name and let folks get to know me using that venue. I have folks come back to me all the time with notes and questions. It is an annonymous information exchange that creates familiarity at the same time. If you'd like to see examples please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I'll be happy to share some.
Then offer helpful things up front like child care for open house nights or parent teacher conferences. Yes it is a pain in the patootie but it gets folks involved in the beginning. Send home half page notes when you PTO is doing something special for the children. Keep them all appraised of the great work so they can feel a part of it. It takes a while but at the volunteer lunch our school put on for us, we had 152 invitations sent out by name to routine volunteers in the school. That didn't happen overnight and not all of those 152 volunteer everytime, but our programs are strong, our communication is strong and our spirit is strong because of the team and family atmosphere I think we've created. Hope this helps...
d
17 years 1 month ago #133761 by PresidentJim
Last year we held our first Back to School Ice Cream Party and I used this as a way to introduce the PTO to new and existing parents. I had a table with PTO information, but I didn't make it too high pressured sales like. I pretty much let them come to me. I stayed around the table for most of the time, but found that when I had to walk away to take care of one of the party issues that some parents found that to be a great time to come over and grab some of my fliers. I printed out some of the articles from the PTOtoday website, such as "Why we do it" and had them available to help spark the idea of getting involved. Here's my introduction letter that I had available:

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome each of you and your families to the
School. As the PTO President it is my responsibility to talk with you about getting involved in the school. But first, since this may be the first time at
for many of you, I think that it is important to explain what the
PTO is all about.

It is important to note that come September you will automatically become a member of the
PTO. In fact, all parents or guardians of children attending
, as well as each member of the professional staff, are members of the Parent Teacher Organization and are encouraged to participate in it’s activities.

The active members of the committee consist of both parents and teachers who volunteer their time to enhance the educational experience of every child in our school. We are an independent organization and we do not belong to any state or national affiliation, or support any political platforms. Because we are a PTO we keep all of the funds that we raise for our school rather than sending money for state and/or national dues or fees.

The
Elementary School PTO's mission is to promote open communication and understanding between parents and staff of the
Elementary School. Our dedication is to enhance and maximize the education of every child while aiding them in achieving their highest potential.

To meet this extremely important goal the organization actively fundraises through various ongoing and event specific programs and activities. These funds enable us to offer many varied programs and projects, all for the betterment of the students' education. Some examples include the reading Incentive Program, Enrichment Programs - including Field Trips and in-school invited events, Field Day, the new "Playground of Dreams" and many, many more. But as you can imagine, to meet all of the goals that we have, we need ACTIVE participation.

This is where you can come in...

Now I truly understand how daunting volunteering can be. Questions such as:

"How much time are we talking about here?", "Will I be required to take on event or committee responsibilities?", or something as simple as, "What exactly is required of me?", are all very normal.

And I am here to assure you that as long as I am the President I will never force anyone to dedicate more time than they are willing, or to be coerced into any undertaking that they are not comfortable with. ANY time that ANY individual is willing to offer is more valuable than I can relate! To give you an example of how important the committee feels your valuable participation is, we have gone out of our way to prevent the need of dues, such as the majority of other PTA and PTO groups require. We also understand that in today's world it is increasingly more difficult to be able to find time to give, even such as one to two hours once a month, which is how often the committee meets. This year we've been able to start offering school age childcare services during the meetings by working with the outreach program at
College.

The funny thing is that most people think of parent groups as being all about bake sales. Or they think of power-tripping moms ruling their domain, like Desperate Housewives or Harper Valley PTA. Well, that's good TV, but it's not us.

We are about men and women working together toward a common goal. That goal simply stated is creating a better school and a better educational experience for our children. We strive to create an atmosphere where both teachers and administrators can do their best work - and so can our children.

There's so much more that can be accomplished, and we need your help. Despite what you see on TV, our parent group is not a bunch of crazed, power-hungry moms (or dads). We are moms and dads, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and friends who care about children and education. We are welcoming and friendly. We are your neighbors, and we share many of the same concerns that you do.

But that's not the only reason to become active. There have been more than 500 independent studies about parent involvement. The results are startling. When parents get involved in their children's education, grades go up, test scores go up, children become more likely to pass and to attend better schools after high school, they have fewer discipline problems, and they're less likely to use drugs and alcohol.

Volunteering doesn't mean a huge time commitment. And whatever your time schedule and interests we have need of you. We have tasks that can be performed in the evenings, during the day, or that don't even involve coming to the school at all.

Won't you join us? I invite you to take a look at the
PTO website to get a feel for all that we do, at http://
.com/ptoweb/ . Then come September just come on out to a PTO meeting or give me a call or send me an e-mail. Becoming active is really easy - and it really makes a difference!

President's signature.

The letter can be altered at the end to indicate the actual meeting date, time and place.

The Back to School Ice Cream Party was such a great event as it was 100% free, had the Radio Disney Party Patrol providing all of the entertainment, games and prizes and was a first opportunity for most to meet their child's new teacher, Principal and even the new Superintendant of Schools.

This event kicked off the year and we ended up having more people in attendance at the first meeting. From what I've been told by the April and May meeting the numbers of attendees in the past were like 5, while this year we continue to have over twenty, and had upwards of 40 to 50 at the September - November meetings.

So, hope this helps,
PresidentJim
17 years 1 month ago #133759 by shellyintenny
Replied by shellyintenny on topic RE: What do you do to get more parents involved?
I can offer these ideas not out of experience from the PTO side, but from the parent side. The old school we were at held a welcome parents meeting, with a preview from the parent org about their projects for the year. They also outlined the type of people they hoped would help. They handed out a form for parents to complete including a place like: "could give 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours per month," etc. And a place to list the type things new parents were good at: e.g. Newsletters, counting cash, parent communication, phone calling, etc. which helps people identify where best to be put. They then invited people with specific skills and interest to join (as junior members being groomed for future leadership) the various committees and put them to work. By the time the leader parents moved on there were very able and well-trained parents at the ready to take over leadership.

THis group was good at including new volunteers, realizing part of the PTO responsibility was to groom new people for the future.
17 years 1 month ago #133756 by pzettler
How do you know who all the parents (name, address or phone number) in order to give them the personal invitation?
17 years 1 month ago #133725 by WFS
Our PTO is at our Kindergarten Orientation to introduce ourselves and give a quick "what do we do" speech. We provide a list of our activities along with a description so they know what to expect and they know what is "Spirit Day", "Fun Fair" or "Project Eat".
We also send home early in September a welcome letter to our Kindergarten students explaining who we are and what we do. We remind them that its parent volunteers that make this all happen and we welcome all newcomers, their ideas and input. Our PTO posts our home phone numbers on the bulletin board, on memos, in our school directory and on line so all parents can get in touch with us at any time. We never wanted to appear to be unavailable.
You can easily do this for both grade levels and they would feel more open and less confused coming into a new setting.
Another school actually has PTO parents call Kindergarten parents in October (once the dust settles) to welcome them to the school and let them know they are there to answer any of their questions. They have gotten volunteers from doing that since parents felt like the PTO went out of their way to reach out to them.

Making a positive difference one project at a time <img src=images/smilies/smile.gif>
17 years 1 month ago #133716 by ohmomof2
Is your school going to have some sort of orientation at the beginning of the year? If so, have a table there with some literature and people from the PTO. If you have a list of some of the upcoming events, that would help too.

I'm kind of in the the same boat. I'm the PTO President next year. We're moving to a new building and adding a grade, we'll be P-2. At the meetings last year there was usually just 4 officers and one or two parents. I feel I'm already ahead of the game -- there are four officers, four people on a service committee and we have a teacher representative. Last year there were no teachers involved. I need more people though, too. Hopefully, we'll both get new members. Also, like it's been said here before, people respond better if they're asked to help rather than waiting for them to volunteer. So if you see someone that you think would be good, just ask them. Good luck!
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