9 Parent Engagement Ideas for School PTO

whole school event ideas

If you are reading this, you are probably either a school PTO leader, principal or room mom trying to figure out how to get more parents involved!

Know this, you are not alone!

Schools across the country struggle to get the participation that they want and need everyday! I've been there too.

Here's the scenario... My son attended a middle school with approximately 700 kids that was in need of a PTO leader. Sure, why not! I love education, kids and planning so how bad could it be? Right?!?!

Wrong! I almost immediately realized that getting people to actually come help with anything was difficult. Honestly, it felt impossible.

I had a mini pity party and decided that wasn't going to cut it! These are good people that love their kids. I knew that! Now, I just needed to come up with how to get them involved!

That leads me to the topic of this post!

How to Increase Parent Engagement at Your School

editable winter coat drive flyer template

First and foremost, remember that you were willing to step up. Whether that was out of guilt, because there was no one else or you are part of an amazing school that has an active PTO, someone cares about the PTA group!

The reality is, while it may not seem like it, everyone wants it to work. They just aren't jumping up and down saying "pick me!" to help out.

That's the good news! So, what do you do when you have good ideas but no parent participation to make your great school fundraiser ideas happen?

It may seem simple, but the key is picking things that are relevant to your PTO, PTA group or school.

For example, if you live in Phoenix, Arizona a coat drive (like shown above) may not make the most sense for your parent teacher organization.

That being said, a coat drive in Canton, Ohio makes a ton of sense! You could donate the jackets to your counselors to give to kids in need or to a local shelter.

The easiest way to find out what your organization wants and/or needs is to ask.

Try doing a survey to see what the students, parents, teachers and administration see as needs in your school. It's super easy to do and will give you actionable ideas to run with!

The key is to show your organization that you want to make a difference - and plan whole school activities and fundraisers that show you mean it.

Principal and School PTA Leader Cooperation

School administrators know what their needs are in the school.

Don't miss the opportunity to partner with them to find out what you and the parent volunteers can do to help your school meet goals!

After all, your child is probably attending that school if you are in a leadership role there. Everyone wants what's best for the school so talk to the principal and administrative team.

Be sure you give the principal a schedule of all PTO meeting dates at the beginning of the year. If they have a secretary, be sure to ask them to schedule administration to attend each meeting.

Parents and community members are much more likely to participate and engage in your school activity calendar if they see support from administrators.

Host a Schoolwide Membership Drive

PTA Membership Drive Flyer template  big shoes to fill flyer template

It's never too late in the year to host a PTA membership drive.

Take a few minutes to get the word out that the parent teacher organization is looking for support.

Don't be afraid to welcome parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and community members onto your school PTO team.

The more minds and perspectives you have on your team, the better you will do at not only choosing the best fundraising events possible. They will have more support because you have more people spreading the word!

Whatever you do, be sure to have an end of year member recruitment drive!

We have big shoes to fill is a popular way to host an end of school year membership drive for your parent teacher organization.

Browse this collection of PTO Membership Resources and remember to include a why join the PTA in membership drive flyers.

Don't forget to talk to your teacher representative and see if they are planning to participate again next year. If not, talk to the principal to see who might be a good fit.

They probably have a great pulse on where your most supportive teachers are!

Spin Off on Popular Parent Engagement Activities

pastries with parents flyer template back to school party ideas tears and cheers flyer template

We have all seen the same parent participation and parent involvement activities out there.

Remember, it is absolutely FINE to have annual events that your PTA looks forward to every year! You can rest assured that sometimes annual events are the way to go!

One idea is to take what would typically be a Donuts with Dad school wide event and swap it out with a Pastries with Parents breakfast or brunch social.

The great thing about Pastries with Parents is kids who may not have dad at home don't feel excluded. That being said, dads who are home can attend too!

You can totally turn this same Pastries with Parents editable flyer into a great Teacher Appreciation event! Change up the title to read, Pastries for Teachers to invite parents to come and thank the teaching staff for all they do!

Back to School events are not only the norm, they are expected. So, why not mix things up a bit and host a back to school teacher brunch or a teacher & staff appreciation breakfast to kick off the school year?

Tears and Cheers events are SUPER popular! Especially with kindergarten parents and teachers. Any opportunity to embrace the struggle of kids leaving home to attend school for the first time is a great way to provide support.

Picking flyers and templates that are editable allows you to change the title and put a fun spin on traditional whole school fundraisers and PTA events.

Host a Color Run or Walkathon

color run flyer template  editable walkathon fundraiser flyer

A really fun way to get families and your community involved and raise awareness for your organization or fundraise is to host an outdoor fundraiser event.

If your school PTA or administration team is focused on being healthy hosting a fitness fundraiser is a great option!

These are great athletic fundraising ideas too! If you are looking for a track and field or cross country fundraiser this is a fun fundraiser ideas that kids and adults love!

Change up the wording on the titles to host a Walkathon, 5K Walk with Pets or Trail Run fundraiser.

Host a Volunteer Appreciation Event

appreciation tag template  unique teacher appreciation week ideas

One of the best ways to keep the members you already have is to host a volunteer appreciation event!

It's super easy to do and your PTA members will know, without a doubt, that they are appreciated.

Gaining new members is important but keeping the ones you have is important too!

Grab one of our Teacher Appreciation Bundles and change the "Teacher" to Volunteer! It's so easy to do and is a fun way to recognize volunteers.

Increase Participation in Your School PTA

I could go on for days about this topic! Having been a PTO leader, teacher, high school principal and absolutely being obsessed with planning fun events I have much to talk about.

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  • Kristen

    Gretchen, I have been there! The best resource that already exists for starting a PTA is from PTO Today. The important thing to decide would be, do you want to start as a PTA or PTO? Once you determine that it’s really about having a good campaign to compel future members to understand why they should join the PTO (or PTA). There are some great membership drive resources in our shop that may be helpful to you. Just look under the PTO PTA tab and there’s a category for membership resources. Best of luck to you!

  • keisha bensin

    get in touch with the family engagement coordinator or speak to the principal

  • Gretchen

    Trying to start a PTA program at our middle school. As of now, we haven’t had a PTA in 18yrs at this building. I’d like to change that. What are some ideas to get me started? Just a few helpful hints would be much appreciated.
    Thank you!

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