PTA Great Idea Bank

A resource for PTA and parent involvement project ideas

Hello, All!

I am new to the PTA idea bank. I think it is a GREAT idea!!!

We are a PTA with strong membership on paper, but low to no showing at meetings where we discuss important issues such as budget cuts, program cuts, etc.

I am soliciting ideas for getting parents out to our monthly meeting. We've tried themed meetings (having a fireman come in and discuss fire safety and the importance of smoke detectors; having a security engineer come in to discuss cyber security in the home/protecting our children on the internet), those didn't do the trick.

I would love to hear ideas!

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What about things that connect back to what their kids are doing in school?
* A science fair with projects by all the classes.
* An all school art show where every child has a piece of artwork on display.
* A cultural fair where each grade level studies a different country and then participants can taste different foods, do activities, learn songs and dances that are a part of each culture?

Do you offer something for the kids to do while you are having your meeting?
* A program for them to participate in?
* An open gym with some volunteers to supervise?
* High school Honor Society members who will babysit?

How do you promote your meetings and these special things you've tried like the fireman and the internet security?
I am actually trying to get parent to monthly general meetings where we discuss PTA and school business. We have numerous activities and programs where we have fantastic PTA/school support and participation. However, when it's time to discuss business: budget cuts, school needs, needs for volunteers at the well attended programs, and planning the events, etc. we don't get turnout. Your ideas for PTA events are good.

We promote our meetings using flyers, school call-out (automated calls) and our school newsletter. Two years ago, we had a PTA newsletter, last year it wasn't published because we didn't have an author, nor input... this year, we plan to try it one more time.
I think a lot of people hear that you are having a "board meeting" and think that -
* they aren't welcome because they aren't on the board
* it's boring and not relevant to them

Traditionally, we have bigger attendance for the very first board meeting of the year and then after that it is just the board the rest of the year. A handfull of our key volunteers will attend intermittently. One thing that I have seen that makes a difference is PERSONAL invitations. Being personally invited is flattering and will most likely make those people more likely to join you. At the beginning of the year last year I sent a note home to every person who had signed up to be a volunteer and invited them to the first board meeting. And we personally invited some people to attend the meeting where we were looking at fundraiser companies. That personal invitation does make a difference.

We are switching our format this year in hopes of becoming more relevant to our membership.. We are going to try to get most of our work done via email and keep our board meetings down to about 30-45 minutes each month. Then when we have finished the business, we will have a 45-60 mins slot left that will be filled with parent round tables. Discussions about things that are relevant to our parents and will hopefully pull them in to be part of the meeting prior to that round table. Round table discussions will require little to no planning on our part. Just an assigned discussion leader with a couple of leading questions to get the discussion started then they make sure everyone have a chance to participate. Some of the topics we may be doing - homework help, volunteer orientation, legislation, saving for college, talking to kids about drugs and alcohol, saving money at the grocery/coupon swap, etc.

We traditionally do association meetings 4x per year and they are tied to the start of some other event like the book fair, arts night, health and fitness event, etc. This is where we do votes on budgets, election of officers, present the results of fundraiser, etc.

Basically, your parents have to see "what's in it for me" and you have to make it worth their while to give up their evening to come out. It can also help if you have babysitting available. Your high school honor society may be able to help with that if they need volunteer hours.

If you have a website, make you rminutes available on it if possible.

Look at possibilities of different times and ways of meeting. Is evening better or would you get a better attendance if you tried before school? Would a different day of the week do better? (We never do anything on Weds nights due to church.) Some people at our last state convention were talking about the possibility of using Skype and doing some meetings online.
this is a copy and paste of my reply to another pta mtg topic:

We always have refreshments at every meeting. We hold meetings monthly not every quarter. I want to say that your quarterly mtgs prevent creating relationships because you don't see the parents for another 3 months - that's a long time! Perhaps you need to hold mtgs more often to generate a larger turnout. This year we scheduled two evenings meetings, plus two social mixers in the evening as well which is strictly just getting together to chit chat and meeting new faces for 2 hours, plus refreshments and we are welcoming children. I hope this will foster face to face relationships and get more parents to volunteer in our events which can sometimes be taxing. Our mtgs are at least an hour, but no more than an hour and half. We have usually about 20 women at each meeting but I would like to see that grow. I will continue the prizes which are prizes that bring the parents back to our own events such as a free tix to our next movie night instead of non-pta related prizes. I will also plan on getting the principal to get the school librarian to see if she would do story time during the evening mtgs. I would like the idea of the open gym, but the custodians would have already sweep it clean before the evening pta and I would not want them to do it all over again without having the pta tip them any money. My board mtgs will be held outside of pta general mtgs, and in addition I am lighting a match under my board mtgs to physically shake hands and meet and greet new parents at every mtg and event. Wishing you all the best...
So why not sweep the gym after you get done? Just like you would wipe down the tables if you used the cafeteria?
We have five PTA general membership meetings per year. This year we have greatly increased attendance by offering a program for students in the multi-purpose room while parents meet across the hall in the media center. We've offered movie night on a couple of occasions and have shown holiday-appropriate movies. We hired a local college-age magician to entertain the children for one of the meetings, and we invited a volunteer with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to bring 5 or 6 animals (Guinea pig, baby alligator, snake, etc) to one of the meetings. In addition, with the approval of the teachers, we offer a Homework Pass for each parent who attends. Their child(ren) must present the pass to their teacher, who then determines which homework activity they are able to skip. This is our way of recognizing that an evening at school (and away from home) is indeed a time commitment and that we appreciate it. Hope this helps.
I love the ideas presented here and will try to implement some of them this year. A lot of our teachers have mentioned having the kids do a skit or song or something but, our teachers are also the ones that complain when asked to do something with their class for PTA. Also, if we have, say the first grade do a play or something, won't we only have first grade parents attending the program?
I do like the idea of personal invites as well. Our previous president felt getting the parents name, students name and teacher was enough when joining PTA but I am expanding our membership form to gather ALOT more info. Also, if we can get a list of student addresses, I am toying with the idea of getting bulk pricing on mailouts.
We started giving out door prizes. Because, let's face it, most parents don't care either way if you are going to spend money on an assembly or not--but they'll make a showing if they have a chance to win something. So--When you come in the door, you get a ticket--if you bring a friend, you each get two tickets. The first meeting, everyone walked out with a door prize because so few attended (but word is slowly getting out now). We also offer babysitting (middle/high schoolers can get their community service hours if you type up a form letter with a space for you to fill in the amount of time--signed by a board member on letterhead), too. A few of the door prizes were books and other goodies we bought with our Scholastic dollars at their warehouse sale, some were left overs from the fundraisers, but this year we are adding $20 per month to our budget for 4 $5 gift cards (from Starbucks, Panera, etc.). We'll give 2 to parents and 2 to teachers (because we have a few teachers that complain, but only 2 come to the meetings regularly--so for next year, we're asking one person from each team to attend each meeting so they're all represented--and maybe if the teachers buy in to the PTA, they'll be more encouraging and knowledgeable about getting parents involved).
This year, we had a raffle at the end of every mtg for prizes such as their child winning free entry to the next movie night, or a free item from our next fundraiser We never announced this at the beginning of the year because if we did then it would sound gimmicky. We did it for every mtg, and the women that came regularly knew that,..those that didn't, missed out.
Next year, as President, I plan to have a PTA mixer in the evening in September. I am still planning on it, but i felt it would be a great way to meet over a social mtg to get to know all the new incoming parents and mingle a bit before we have our first official pta mtg in the following week. I was thinking of something like a coupon swap, or someother else. I"m not sure,.I"m still thinking about it.
A problem that we have as well! But one thing we did and it worked for that and for getting input on the school is that we created a student board. We are an elementary school and we have 1-5th graders one from each class on the board at the meetings as well. They meet with our teacher representative once a month and discuss things that are going on in the classroom. Problems that are going in the school in general and then every meeting that child has a typed script and discusses what is going on in their class at that time..i.e..field trip, learning about the planet, etc. And then when they are all done 2 students from a grade level give an overall report about upcomming events like the paper drive or food drive. Then the next meeting another grade level does it as well. Its really good because you get to see the different things that the kids want. You hear from them. The whole student board meeting usually lasts about 10 minutes. Nothing extravagent. Oh and we also put out fliers that childcare will be provided. Which is provided by some students from the high school who need community service hours so they can graduate....(its something our district requires for all high school students!)
Hope it helps
that sounds like a good idea, but i know the teachers already don't want to have the students pulled out of class if they don't have to, but an alternative is for them to write a review of our assembly program or event and we read it aloud during the pta mtg. It sounds like a plan.. i like the idea,..something I would have to mull over and see how to go about it. I also like the idea of having the h.s. students babysit..good idea..


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