As more and more data comes in, it is increasingly clear that many students fell behind during the first year of the pandemic. One way to help students begin to catch up academically is through out-of-school learning opportunities. A recent report by Bellwether shows that families often find barriers to participation in these learning opportunities. Your PTA can make a difference through PTA programs.

The report, Education Beyond the Classroom: Parent Demand and Policy Support for Supplemental Learning Options, shows that families are interested in many different extracurricular opportunities that they are not participating in currently. Among those opportunities with more than 39% of families expressing interest but not currently participating are:

  • Academic
  • Arts
  • Career Preparation
  • Community
  • Culture

The biggest barriers to participation were information about the programs and the cost of the programs. These barriers highlight a major opportunity for PTAs to engage with their families through programs from National PTA and Illinois PTA. Programs like PTA Reflections (Arts), STEM+Families and Family STEAM Booklet (Academic, Career Preparation), Healthy Lifestyles (Community), and Connect for Respect (Culture) can support learning in all of the areas families are interested in.

These programs are ready for your PTA to use right away, often with resources in Spanish as well, and can also be done either in person or at home. All your PTA needs to do is plan an in-person or virtual event and make sure your school’s families know about it. Many of the National PTA programs have promotional materials like flyers and posters for your PTA to use, too.

PTA programs provide a variety of benefits:

  • They engage families in their children’s education, which research has shown can significantly increase student success.
  • They support the work your school’s teachers are doing in the classroom.
  • They demonstrate the value your PTA provides to your school community, which can help to grow your membership and increase your volunteers.