Looking for program and event ideas that parents and families will love to attend?
I have seven of them right here for you that are guaranteed crowd pleasers that’ll inspire parents to get involved in your PTO!
Kindergarten playdates / playdates in the park
During the Summer, and especially in the weeks right before school starts, set up some park meet ups and specifically invite Kindergarten parents to these playdates in the park.
Make sure to hold them both during the day and in the evening, so working parents can attend.
You can promote these events not only on your group Facebook account, but also in the packets of information families are given when they register for Kindergarten and during Kindergarten Orientation sessions.
Also bring along some membership forms and information about your PTO so you can sign people up right then and there!
Back to School Picnic
Where there is food, people will congregate and make connections.
Schedule this classic family event during the first week of school and publicize it early and often!
Consider using the blacktop portion of the school playground to set up a few tables for a potluck picnic.
No blacktop? Use the soccer field or any other open area around your school.
Depending on your budget, the PTO can pay for pizza and paper products and ask families to bring a different item based on grade level.
For example Kindergarteners – side dish; Grade 1 – appetizer/snack; Grade 2 – dessert; Grade 3 – 20 juice boxes, etc.
Dividing it up like this and providing a little bit of structure ensures you don’t end up with just pizza and chips!
Also consider creating areas for the different grade levels to meet up.
Some new families won’t know anyone and will thank you for this thoughtful direction.
Finally, be sure to set up a Membership Table so interested parents can sign up and get more information about your PTO.
If at all possible, dispense with the formal meetings a few times a year and have dessert instead!
Less business and more time for making connections is never a bad thing.
My PTA has traditionally skipped the more formal meetings in December and May.
We’ve opted to ask people to bring a dessert to share instead and we trade stories and form connections.
It’s just as important to give parents an opportunity to bond with one another as it is to give them information.
So don’t overlook this important addition to your calendar of events for the year!
Need help figuring out how much food to serve? Check out this guide on food for crowds.
Social hour after meetings
Another great way to get more parents involved is to head out for dessert or drinks after the monthly PTO meetings!
Make sure to directly ask each new member who comes to the meeting so they’ll know they’re invited too.
This is a great way to really get to know members and have an adult conversation without being interrupted by kids!
And especially for lower elementary schools, this gives parents something to look forward to!
School Movie Night
Movie Night is a hugely popular event, whether the movie is for families or just students, they will come!
Here’s a post with all the juicy details on How to Plan a School Movie Night.
Ice cream social
Bust out the sprinkles and families are sure to be there!
This is one event that will definitely have the kids begging their parents to attend!
It also gives the adults time to talk and get to know each other while their kids have a sweet treat.
This is a great addition to a PTO meeting night because food always seems to break down barriers.
Don’t be afraid to make some of your meetings informal.
That’s not what most parents are expecting and they’ll be pleasantly surprised!
One of the best attended PTA meetings I’ve ever been to was one fashioned as a networking event.
Parents were encouraged to bring business cards and a big chunk of the evening was set aside for mingling.
It was great to see how many people came out for the opportunity to meet others!
I hadn’t anticipated there would be so many, and it turned out that many of them volunteered throughout the rest of the year.
So give this idea a try and look forward to an infusion of new faces!
Over to you
Bottom line, it isn’t that hard to think of events that will be a draw for parents and potential volunteers.
Think about why you got involved in your PTO and try to replicate that feeling or experience with an event!