PTA Celebrates Back-to-School Week September 17-21

Next week, PTAs across the country will celebrate National PTA Back-to-School Week. Each day of Back-to-School Week will highlight and provide tips and resources for the people who support our children’s learning and success.

  • Monday, September 17: PTA Leaders
  • Tuesday, September 18: Parents
  • Wednesday, September 19: Students
  • Thursday, September 20: Teachers
  • Friday, September 21: Office Depot Day (National PTA sponsor of Back-to-School Week)

These highlights and resources include:

And there are many more resources at the Back-to-School Week website. Take advantage of these resources, new grant opportunities, and more to make the 2018-2019 school year a huge success for your PTA, your children, your families, and your school. Follow the hashtag #PTABackToSchoolto see what PTAs across the country are doing to celebrate Back-to-School Week.

School Health Webinar Series—Programs, Fundraisers, and More

Action for Healthy Kids, a long-time partner of the Illinois PTA, has an ongoing webinar series focusing on school health issues. There are three live webinars scheduled for this year so far, and past webinars are available as recordings. The live webinars will also be archived for those unable to attend in real-time, so be sure to register even if you can’t attend live to be able to view the recording.

Upcoming Webinars

Game On: Your One-Stop Shop for School Health(September 26, 2018, 2:00pm-2:45pm)

It’s the beginning of a new school year, which means it’s time to get your Game On! Action for Healthy Kids’ Game On program is a no-cost, step-by-step online guide that serves as your one-stop shop for school health. Game On provides all the information and resources you need to build a healthy school. Join this webinar to learn how to use Game On to build a strong school wellness program this year. School staff, parents, health professionals and other community members are encouraged to attend.

Take Action to Improve Health with the School Health Index(October 11, 2018, 2:00pm-2:45pm)

How does your school determine what to prioritize around student health and wellness? Action for Healthy Kids recommends using the School Health Index to assess your school’s health environment to determine what you’re doing well and where you could improve. Attend this webinar to learn about the School Health Index, how to use Action for Healthy Kids’ school portal to complete the assessment online and how to make the most of the summary reports generated by our technology to improve school and student health. School and district staff, parents and community members are encouraged to attend this webinar.

School Breakfast: Menu Options for Alternative Breakfast Models(January 10, 2019, 3:00pm-3:45pm)

How does your school determine what to prioritize around student health and wellness? Action for Healthy Kids recommends using the School Health Index to assess your school’s health environment to determine what you’re doing well and where you could improve. Attend this webinar to learn about the School Health Index, how to use Action for Healthy Kids’ school portal to complete the assessment online and how to make the most of the summary reports generated by our technology to improve school and student health. School and district staff, parents and community members are encouraged to attend this webinar.

Archived Webinars

Healthy Snacking (30 minutes)

Spice up your snacking routine with fun and healthy snacks for all ages. Learn about easy, healthy snacks you can serve during or after school and as part of school celebrations.

Family and Community Engagement 101: Maximizing Volunteers for School Health (60 minutes)

To make the most out of your school health programs, it’s essential to make the most out of your family and community volunteers and partners. This webinar prepares you on how to best use the parent and community volunteers you already have, and how to find the best volunteers to meet your school health needs.

School Digs! Raising the Bar and Profits with Healthy School Fundraisers (60 minutes)

Whether it’s the cafeteria, playground, classroom or another area on your campus, kids need to get the same message everywhere: Be active and eat healthy! This webinar is designed to show you where campuses can improve and make sure that kids are getting the right message about healthy eating and being active. Create healthier school parties, offer healthier rewards, or host a healthy non-food fundraiser. Hosted by Parents for Healthy Kids.

Helping Kids Learn Better with Healthy School Meals (60 minutes)

Learn how national school meal programs work and how parents and community members can deepen support, trust and meaningful collaboration with nutrition services staff to create healthier school food environments. For parents, school wellness champions and school health teams.

Yoga in the Classroom (30 minutes)

Use simple yoga-based movements and practices to increase physical fitness, student focus and academic performance! For teachers and champions for active kids.

Give Your Child a Quick Readiness Check for This School Year

Surveys show that 90% of parents believe their child is performing at or above grade level. However, their teachers indicate that only 39% of students start the school year prepared for grade-level work, and other indicators such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) agree with them. Learning Heroes has created a quick readiness check for families to help them assess if their child has mastered their previous year’s math and reading skills.

The readiness check provides three to five questions for students who completed kindergarten through eighth grade last school year in both math and reading. The results give you a quick assessment of whether your child is ready for the coming school year and where your child may need some extra support getting back up to speed. You can also use Learning Heroes’ Super 5 and Readiness Roadmap to help you find resources to support your child at home.

3 Back-to-School Things Families Need to Know

Illinois students are heading back to school now or in the next few weeks. Here are three key things that parents need to know that your PTA should be educating them about.

  1. Family engagement is critical to student success.Research shows that real family engagement, not just newsletters home or brief parent-teacher conferences twice a year, is a critical to long-term student success. Students with engaged families have better attendance, higher graduation rates, better social skills and behavior, and increased student achievement. Additional research has shown that schools would need to spend an additional $1,000 more per pupilto see the same increases in student achievement that come from a truly engaged family.
  2. Every child deserves a safe and supportive school.When a child feels safe and secure, they can focus on learning both at school and in the home. Every child should have a school and home environment safe from the threat of physical and psychological harm. National PTA recently strengthened our position on this with their position statement on safe and supportive schools.
  3. Learning starts with attendance.Simply put, children need to be in school in order to learn. It seems obvious, but chronic absenteeism is a critical issue for many Illinois schools. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are far less likely than their peers to read proficiently at the end of third grade. Families and schools need to work together as partners to make sure students attend school and to identify and address the barriers to attendance.

Your PTA’s Role

Your PTA is a critical partner in educating families about these issues and working to address them in your school. To increase family engagement, participate in this year’s National PTA School of Excellence program. PTAs in Illinois who have earned this designation have seen dramatic increases in family participation in school events, PTA meetings and volunteers, and school climate. Get your principal on board and sign up before October 1, 2018 (earlier is better, so don’t wait). Illinois PTA has created a School of Excellence Support Group to help PTA’s navigate the program, headed by Southern Region Director (and leader of Kreitner Elementary PTA’s becoming a National School of Excellence) Greg Hobbs. Contact your district or region director for more information about the program.

Address your school’s climate not only through the School of Excellence program, but also through National PTA’s Connect for Respect programto address bullying. Use the program to engage students, families, and educators on a step-by-step process to assess school climate, to discuss and brainstorm ways to overcome weaknesses found in the assessment, and to develop an action plan that educates and empowers your school community to create a safe school environment. Use National PTA’s Diversity and Inclusion Toolkitto ensure you are engaging to all families.

Work with your school principal and use PTA’s many programsto bring families into your school. As part of those programs, include a short kickoff meeting or provide handouts on critical issues to help parents support their child’s education. Use the resources in National PTA’s Local Leader Kitand Illinois PTA’s Leadership Resources(ask your PTA president for this year’s password) to show families why they should be joining your PTA.