There's no doubt that middle school PTO and PTA involvement is more difficult than grade school parent leadership. Gone are the cute kiddos who love having Mom and Dad around, and gone are the parents longing to connect with their kids' every activity. Growing parent involvement at a middle school is tough and can be very frustrating.

But make no mistake -- involvement is just as important at the middle school level, and middle school parents still do want to be connected to their kids' schools.

In my experience, the trick is not to fight the kids or expect parents to be the same now as before, but rather to bring the kids into the mix and serve parents in their new reality. No one wants a pajama reading night for middle schoolers (yikes!). That worked great for the young kids but would be an (empty) disaster for 7th graders. Looking for a middle school family event? Ask the middle schoolers to help. What ideas do they have? How can parents be involved?

You may wind up with a family night at the minor league hockey game or a video game tournament or a "gross-out/fear factor" night -- but you'll have the kids on board and they'll "let" their parents follow.

Finally, middle school parents have real worries and concerns. How can your group be a resource on those fronts? Whether it's social media or drugs and alcohol or college readiness or the core curriculum -- middle school is a great time for your group to find ways to serve parents with information and solutions. It's not a pajama party with popcorn, but it serves a very effective involvement purpose.

P.S. If you haven't already told your teachers and room parents about TeacherLists.com, now is the time, because three lucky teachers will each win $513 to help them make their classrooms even better! Simply post and share a classroom wish list between now and Dec. 31 for the chance to win! Learn more.