8 Ways to Perk Up Your PTA Meetings

The first few PTA meetings of the year always have a big turnout, with new families wanting to know what’s happening and returning families wanting to see what the PTA has planned for the year. But now that the first few months of school are behind you, chances are attendance at your PTA meetings has dropped off a bit from the start of the year. Here are eight ways to perk up your PTA meetings and attendance.

  1. Respect their time. With families having busy lives, it can be tough to get the family fed, run off to a PTA meeting, and be back in time to help with homework and tuck the kids in bed. Limiting your PTA meeting to an hour means that parents know when they’ll be back home.
  2. Send reminders and share information. Use MemberHub to send reminders of your PTA meetings and events. Be sure to use the files section to post your agenda, meeting minutes, and any relevant items that will be discussed at the meeting so people can come prepared. After the meeting, share what happened.
  3. Break the ice. One of the more common complaints about PTAs are that they are a clique or there is an in-group that runs everything. Start your meeting with an icebreaker (see these from Minnesota PTA) to help everyone get to know more about each other, use nametags, and have people answer a silly personal question (e.g., least favorite food or favorite holiday movie) when doing introductions. Consider creating a welcome packet for your new families.
  4. Include the kids. Parents show up when their child is performing. Consider working with teachers to have kids highlight something they are doing in class—performing a song, displaying art they’ve created, or math games they’re playing to learn concepts.
  5. Feed them. Getting the family fed and then getting to a PTA meeting can be a challenge. Make that challenge a little easier by providing dinner with your PTA meeting, something simple like pizza or a potluck dinner. Use some of that eating time to give people a chance to mingle and meet.
  6. Get rid of barriers. Consider switching from a head table with the officers to a circle or everyone around one “big table” by pushing several together. If a significant portion of your families speak a different language at home, consider bringing in an interpreter and translating your materials into that language.
  7. Reward them. Consider creating a loyalty program for your PTA meetings. Each time someone attends a meeting they get an entry for a drawing, either at that PTA meeting or after several PTA meetings. The rewards don’t have to be expensive. Things like four front row seats and a reserved parking space for a holiday concert, tickets for games at a school carnival, or a small gift card for coffee or school supplies can all work.
  8. Go live. Use Skype, Facebook Live, or some other platform to share your PTA meeting live for those unable to attend in person.

 Help for Parents Supporting Their Child’s Math Skills 

You have probably heard that you should be helping your child learn math at home through everyday activities. But perhaps you have been reluctant to do so, either because you didn’t know where to begin, you find the new math curriculum is confusing, or you have always thought that you were “bad at math.” For parents of students in kindergarten through fifth grade, Mathnasium has a booklet of Math Tips for Parents. They have a companion booklet called Math Tips for Students Grades 6 & Up as well. 

The booklet for parents covers the basic math concepts that students should be learning and provides examples of questions to ask to support those concepts. The booklet covers ideas like: 

  • Counting 
  • Grouping
  • Fractions
  • Problem Solving
  • Money
  • Visualizing Problems
  • Learning Addition and Subtraction Facts
  • Learning to Tell Time

The focus of the booklet is on helping your child learn math concepts, which is much more important for later success in math and science than learning a certain way of adding or how to solve a specific problem. 

What Your PTA Can Do 

Mathnasium is also a founding sponsor of National PTA’s STEM+Families program. In partnership with National PTA, Mathnasium has created a Math Night program that provides a ready-to-use collection of games and materials to help kids explore math at their own level. The step-by-step materials are part of the Math Grants Toolkit, and your PTA does not have to be a math grant winner to use the kit. The toolkit includes everything you need for a successful Math Night, including planning materials, promotional tools, and wrap-up items, with most pieces available in both English and Spanish. Start planning your Math Night today. 

How to Grow Your PTA Membership

Membership is what makes PTA go. Members are our volunteers and future leaders, and they amplify our voice when speaking to school leaders and legislators. Some PTAs, like many membership-driven organizations across the country, have struggled recently to grow their membership. Here are some tips and PTA resources to help you grow your PTA membership.

  • Register for your Local PTA Leader Kit from National PTA.This kit has a multitude of resources for PTA leaders, but the key membership item is the free Design Your PTA/PTSA Membership P.L.A.N. that walks you through developing a membership recruitment plan tailored to your PTA, school, and community and loaded with examples, questions to consider, and brainstorming prompts to help you through the process.
  • Register your PTA officers with Illinois PTA to gain access to the Illinois PTA Online Leadership ResourcesLike the National PTA Local PTA Leader Kit, these online resources provide you and your PTA with the information you need to have a successful PTA year, including growing your membership.
  • Use the Illinois PTA 2019-2020 Membership Awards to guide your membership activities. Each month from September through May has a specific membership award that your PTA could win.
  • Not sure how to run a short-term membership campaign? Use one of Illinois PTA’s ready-to-use campaigns along with other Illinois PTA membership resource
  • Sign your PTA up for the National PTA School of Excellence programPTAs participating in the program have seen improvements in family engagement and growth in membership, PTA meeting attendance, and volunteer participation. The deadline to sign up for the 2019-2020 program is October 1, 2019.
  • Use National PTA’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit to reach out to underrepresented groups from your school community.Does your PTA membership reflect the diversity of your school? The Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit can help you bring those communities in your school who may not be familiar with PTA into the fold. If you’re not sure of your school’s demographics, the Illinois Report Card can provide you with that information.
  • Check out the collection of One Voice Illinois articles on membershipIllinois PTA’s blog, One Voice Illinois, has been publishing for over five years now, and the archive of articles on specific topics can be accessed by clicking the links in the Categories sidebar.

Celebrating Our 2019-2021 Schools of Excellence

National PTA recently announced the 2019-2021 Schools of Excellence, and Illinois PTA is proud to congratulate our record number of schools being recognized. The 11 schools are:

  • Frederick Douglass PTSA, Chicago
  • George W. Lieb PTA, Inc, Bridgeview
  • Glacier Ridge PTA, Crystal Lake
  • Granger Middle School PTA, Aurora
  • Greenbrier Elementary PTA, Arlington Heights
  • Homewood PTA, Homewood
  • Pershing Panthers PTA, Chicago
  • Quincy Junior High School PTA, Quincy
  • Urbana Middle School PTSA, Urbana
  • Windsor PTA, Arlington Heights
  • Kreitner PTA, Collinsville

Kreitner PTA is now a two-time School of Excellence, having been one of Illinois PTA’s first honorees.

The School of Excellence programprovides a step-by-step guide for improving family engagement in your school. To participate, enroll your school by October 1st, conduct a survey of your families by November and receive a roadmap to success, follow the roadmap throughout the year, conduct a follow-up survey between March and June to measure your improvement, and submit your final report by June 1st. The Illinois PTA field service team provides PTAs in the program support throughout the process.

PTAs that successfully complete the program receive a banner and materials for their school celebration and are automatically considered for the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awardand a $2,000 grant. Both principals and PTAs that have participated have praised the way that the program has transformed the conversations and climate at their school and in their PTA.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a 2020-2022 School of Excellence. Enroll in the program now.