1. Host a welcome-back coffee this month with your board and volunteers. Talk about your priorities for winter and spring and set goals. You may get some new ideas for planned events.
2. Review the PTO calendar and make sure key events are listed on your group’s website and the school’s calendar. Download the 2022-23 parent group planning calendar for important dates to consider when you're planning.
3. Check in on the business side of things: Review your budget to date and make any necessary adjustments. Look for and resolve any outstanding financial issues like bounced checks or declined cards.
4. Review your financial practices and implement any controls to help you keep your assets safe. It’s worth taking a look at our articles that address financial best practices.
5. Make sure you have the right insurance coverage—don’t assume you’re covered by the school’s policy. This is especially important if you have outdoor spring events planned.
6. Meet with committee chairs to discuss upcoming events. See how they’re doing and make sure they have the resources they need to do the job. This article on committee management is worth a look to help you guide volunteers who may have questions or concerns.
7. Review (or create) your teacher appreciation plans. It’s really never too soon to get started on this! Will your group do a big event or series of events during Teacher Appreciation Week? Will you celebrate the whole staff together or have separate thank-you events? We have many teacher appreciation resources that will help you with your planning.
8. Thank your volunteers. There's no such thing as too much appreciation. Whether you choose to hand-write thank-you notes or post social graphics and shout-outs, showing volunteers how much you value their time and energy will keep them coming back. Use our Facebook graphics for volunteer appreciation now and throughout the year.
9. Meet with the principal to discuss your winter and spring plans. Ask the principal for feedback on the school year to date and see whether there are any outstanding issues to be addressed. Check out our articles on working with the principal, which are particularly helpful if your relationship is rocky or these kinds of check-ins cause you stress.
10. Review your bylaws and make any amendments needed. Robert‘s Rules of Order has a standing procedure for amending bylaws that you can use.
11. Sketch out a basic plan for upcoming general meetings. Are you planning any guest speakers or student presentations? Now is a good time to confirm these. Think up meeting reminders and icebreakers, and plan to keep meetings to one hour maximum. Also, get inspiration from infographic with last-minute meeting tips.
12. Start a low-key search for leadership candidates. It really isn’t too soon. If there are a few parents who have been participating and seem to have leadership qualities, think about how to connect with them in a casual way to gauge their interest in getting more involved. We have lots of resources on transition strategies you‘ll find helpful.
13. Reboot your social media. Spend a little time looking for new accounts to follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Do a scan of what’s been posted in the past few months and analyze what's working. Brainstorm other types of posts that will connect with your community. Check out the graphics in our Clip Art Gallery to add pizazz to your posts.
14. Talk to local businesses about sponsorships or donations. Many businesses have a donation budget that renews at the beginning of the calendar year, making January the best time to approach them.
15. Make a commitment to take time for yourself and keep a balance between your PTO responsibilities and your personal life. Learn to set up boundaries that allow you to be a parent while you’re at school. Everything seems better when we do this for ourselves!
Terri Frank contributed to this article.
Originally published in January 2016 and updated regularly.