As you rummage through your child's backpack you may come across a humble flyer asking you to join your school's PTA/PTO. Don't ignore it. Don't throw it in the trash. Join the PTA.
The PTA/PTO is an important advocacy wing of the school. An active parents association lets the teachers, the principal, the board of education, and the county know that parents are actively paying attention and are engaged in the decisions that affect the education of the students in your school. It's important that those involved in educating our children understand that partnership opportunities with parents are available. Parent engagement and active participation can take a school to the next level.
I get it... you work, there's no time, or there's some other excuse why you "just can't". And that's ok too... but consider this, someone is spending time and effort to make your child's experience better, with minimal adjustment you can also assist in that process in your own way. Some parents volunteer time, others volunteer expertise, some donate monies or fundraise, while others lead, plan, and organize. Each individual contribution is valuable and necessary for the successful execution of school activities and experiences that the teachers and staff do not provide.
Not sure how you can increase your parent engagement this year? Here are some tips to help you increase your participation by at least 10%.
1. Join. Just join. Joining the parents organization at the school increases the numbers that are recorded at the state level. Sizable numbers also help the county and board of education realize that the parents are paying attention at your school. This helps when major decisions need to be made.
2. Attend. I get it... these meetings are after school or during dinner. But usually only once a month! Set the goal to attend 1 more meeting than you did last school year. Some PTAs have child care and dinner on site so that parents can attend! If you can't make any meetings, make sure you read all of the notes that are released so that you know what was discussed at the meetings. When you attend, speak up! This is a great time to talk about fun ideas, hear from the PTA President and the school principal, or voice a concern that has affected a group of children.
3. Volunteer. Sign up for 1 more volunteer opportunity than you did last year. Schools need volunteers for stuff and the parent association or organization is a great opportunity for you to make a huge impact with sometimes minimal effort- man a table, donate your professional expertise, create flyers, help with crowd control- lend your time to help make your child's school better.
4. Donate. Parent organizations do a lot to support the learning of EVERY student in the school. Every dollar donated is appreciated. No donation is too small. If you don't think you can make any meetings this school year, try donating an amount per kid that attends the school.
5. Respect. Someone at your school has dedicated their time and resources to making sure the school dance happens or some advocacy issue improves. Make sure that you are respectful of that effort. It may not be the way you would have done it, but guess what, you can always volunteer!
Listen... all families are pressed for time but if we really care as much as we say we do about our child's education, we must also be an active and engaged member of the school community. Teachers and principals can't do it all. Your effort and donation (time, resources, etc.) helps to improve the school that your child attends. If every parent set a small goal for parent engagement this school year imagine how much better your child's school would be!
How are you going to improve by 10% this school year? Share your thoughts in the comments! Also, we talk about parent-teacher partnerships A LOT on Twitter. Follow us or share using the hashtag: #LetsK12Better
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.