The new academic and calendar year marks a fresh start for schools. But new beginnings can be overwhelming for those getting involved in a parent or parent-teacher group. Even disciplined organizers can feel perplexed and uncertain about where to start. It’s hardly surprising with so much to navigate, like school schedules, extracurricular activities, volunteers, new events, and administration. So, what do you prioritize? How can you be certain you’re focusing on the right things or not missing out on anything vital?
The solution is to create a low-tech, tried-and-tested checklist—a true debunker of confusion. This simple tool gives your group organizers a clear roadmap on the way forward, breaking down big questions into smaller, actionable tasks. Your school year is far more likely to thrive with a to-do list that offers clarity and direction, and this article shows you how.
How to Prepare Your Parent-Teacher Checklist
The way to organize your parent-teacher checklist is in a logical progression. This approach helps shape a straightforward roadmap that guides your efforts efficiently. It helps minimize confusion and ensures you address all crucial aspects strategically. So, in this piece, we start with the foundational elements, move on to governance and financial considerations, and finish with your organizational logistics.
Here’s what the section outline of your parent-teacher checklist should look like:
Foundational elements of your parent-teacher group checklist:
- Review your mission statement
- Outline your goals for the year
- Appraise your bylaws
Governance and financial considerations:
- Ensure your officers have clear roles and responsibilities
- Recruit volunteers
- Review your finances and incorporation documents
- Take inventory of your possessions
- Audit your password storing/keeping methods
- Review your calendar of activities
Now, let’s get you organized and dive into building your all-inclusive parent checklist.
Powerhouse Checklist for Parent-Teacher Groups
Your parent-teacher powerhouse checklist starts here. By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll no longer feel like you’re juggling chainsaws throughout the year. Instead, you’ll have the proper tools and strategies to navigate every aspect of your group confidently and easily.
#1 Review Your Mission Statement
Active parent and parent-teacher groups periodically review mission statements for good reasons. Your group’s declaration lays the basis for organizational clarity and alignment. As you evolve, it’s crucial to evaluate the relevance of your statement by questioning its resonance with your current goals and values. Look at examples from other successful groups if you need a little inspiration on how to write a good mission statement.
Be mindful of these four concepts when writing a new or updating an old statement:
- Include the purpose or primary goal of the parent or parent-teacher group
- Mention the beneficiaries of the group’s school activities or support
- Add values that highlight your core standards or principles
- Show commitment to your cause or mission
This review process is not a job for one person and should involve all key stakeholders. This collaborative approach ensures diverse perspectives contribute to drafting a new mission or refining an existing one that truly guides and reflects your core purpose.
Regular updates keep your mission dynamic and reflective of the evolving group.
#2 Starting the School Year Right: Outline Your Goals
Setting clear objectives is crucial for building and maintaining a successful partnership between your group and the school. Use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) for clarity and effectiveness. Refer to specific examples as you outline parent-teacher initiatives and activities to support your ideas. Also, evaluate your current and potential resources to identify any gaps. This thorough process ensures you have a well-defined, strategic plan for a productive and collaborative year ahead.
A simple table is an effective way to brainstorm, present, and organize your plans in a structured and easily digestible format (see below).
|Ideas on How to Achieve Goals
|Improve the academic performance of students in important subjects
|Offer regular updates to increase parent involvement in schools
|Use events to strengthen ties and build a strong school community
|Develop creative, practical fundraising strategies and targets
|Improve communication/relations between parents and teachers
|Extend support for extracurricular school activities
|Enhance parent-teacher communication through technology
|Provide opportunities for volunteer development and growth
#3 Review Your Club’s Bylaws
Bylaws are critical for maintaining organizational health but are rarely set in stone. Therefore, you should review them periodically as your group grows and evolves. Why is this important? Because groups that struggle with membership and breakdowns in functionality tend to stem from outdated or unclear bylaws. When you review yours or how often is up to you, but an opportune time is as the fall semester concludes. Another is during officer transitions.
Use a legal professional if necessary, as this guarantees compliance while avoiding conflicts. Consider using a free nonprofit template if you don’t know how to revise your bylaws or could use some guidance. Templates are great if you’re a new club or member trying to find your way.
The table below summarizes key action items for various aspects, making it ideal for quick reference. While every parent-teacher group has unique structures and obligations, these essential considerations apply to most organizations.
|Verify compliance with nonprofit regulations
|Confirm name and mission. Define clear goals.
|Specify membership criteria. Review and update voting procedures.
|Review central policies; encompass non-discrimination and fund-carryover
|Simplify the amendment process
|Clarify officer eligibility. Define roles and responsibilities
|Establish a removal process
|Define executive board composition and purpose
|Clarify committee eligibility. List standing committees.
|Establish budgets and embezzlement prevention
|Conflict of Interest
|Develop a conflict of interest policy or review an existing one
|Define meeting types/procedures. Specify quorum requirements.
|Schedule an annual review. Assess insurance coverage.
#4 Ensure Your Officers Have Clear Roles and Responsibilities
The best-run parent-teacher groups have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for at least four officer roles, namely:
- President: leads, presides, guides, and communicates for the group
- Vice president: supports the president, manages committees, and other duties
- Treasurer: handles finances, budgets, and financial records
- Secretary: logs minutes, manages communications, and maintains filing
Defining officer obligations fosters accountability while preventing overlap or neglect within the team. Although some officer positions have fixed duties, others may change as your group evolves. Regularly assess and adjust these responsibilities, if necessary, to keep your organization cohesive and well-functioning.
#5 Recruit and Retain Volunteers
A diverse volunteer pool is the lifeblood of every school community group. Most clubs need more parent volunteers, while others need more teachers involved in their organization. Time is a precious commodity, so your mission needs to be attractive to garner attention. You can do several things to recruit volunteers for your PTA (Parent-Teacher Associations), PTO (Parent-Teacher Organizations), or booster club. But attraction is only half the battle; the other half is holding on to great people. Being mindful of both sides of the volunteer coin will help you develop effective recruitment and retention strategies.
|Volunteer Attraction Points
|Volunteer Retention Strategies
Adapt the ideas above to align with your organization. What you offer volunteers in return for their time and how you keep them involved will vary between organizations.
#6 Review Your Finances and Incorporation Documents
It’s important to review your finances and foundational documents regularly. It’s not the most glamorous job, but it ensures the group’s operational stability. Thorough reviews offer clarity and help you stick to set guidelines, thus reducing the potential for discrepancies. This section outlines an ordered checklist for evaluating your financial well-being. Use these points to provide alignment with the legal framework established by your incorporation documents.
|Dual Review: Appoint two individuals to examine financial books. Dual reviews vastly reduce the likelihood of discrepancies.
|Incorporation Renewal: Ensure your group’s legal standing by confirming the incorporation renewal and organizing relevant documents.
|Financial Reports Accuracy: Verify the accuracy of your financial reports to help maintain clarity and accountability.
|Cash Balance Verification: Confirm your cash balance for alignment with organizational goals.
|Transaction Record Check: Scrutinize your physical and virtual transaction records to confirm their completeness and accuracy.
|Filing Due Dates: Add state and federal filing due dates to your annual calendar to ensure timely compliance.
|Budget Adoption: Confirm all financial plans align with the group’s objectives before approving the budget for the upcoming year.
|Financial Controls Updates: Recommend changes or updates to financial controls where necessary to enhance security and efficiency.
|Embezzlement Prevention: Safeguard your organization’s financial integrity by implementing strong financial oversight to deter and prevent embezzlement.
Following these steps fortifies your financial health and helps establish a basis for sustained success and responsible governance.
#7 Take Inventory of Your Possessions
A detailed, clearly documented catalog of your possessions is necessary for organizational efficiency. Conducting a thorough inventory of all the equipment and supplies under your control will vastly improve resource management. Moreover, a clutter-free, secure environment makes planning and decision-making much easier. The secret is keeping your inventory up-to-date to ensure preparedness and minimize waste.
#8 Audit Your Password Storing/Keeping Methods
Periodic reviews of password storage are crucial for your digital security. Look at where and how you store passwords and update your protection to mitigate potential security risks if necessary. Also, consider periodic changes to your login credentials for heightened security, using unique, strong passwords for every account.
Examine access permissions, making sure they only apply to essential personnel. This proactive approach minimizes vulnerability and protects your sensitive data. Finally, use a reliable free or fee-based password manager, like Dashlane or Bitwarden, to store and manage your login credentials securely.
#9 Review Your Calendar of Activities
A calendar of activities is invaluable for parent and parent-teacher groups. Calendars serve as centralized visual tools to coordinate all your events, meetings, and initiatives. Several platforms, such as Google Calendar, offer user-friendly interfaces and real-time synchronization. They are perfect for enhancing communication, minimizing scheduling conflicts, and ensuring everyone is well-informed and aligned with upcoming events.
A good calendar fosters effective communication among your team members, keeping everyone on the same page about upcoming events. However, the effectiveness of a planner hinges on its maintenance and timely updates. That means those with access are responsible for viewing and updating the content.
#10 Check Your Insurance Documents
Small and new clubs often ask: does my parent group need insurance? The answer is legally, probably not, but obtaining insurance is highly advisable. Coverage protects you against unforeseen liabilities and provides added security for the group and its members. Fortunately, affordable insurance options exist for parent and parent-teacher groups. That includes booster clubs, PTAs, and PTOs.
If you have insurance (highly recommended), regularly review your policy documents to check they are up-to-date and provide adequate coverage. School volunteer groups often evolve. As things change, you might engage in new school activities or face different risks, so you should always check that you have the proper coverage.
For assistance on insurance types and prices, contact AIM Insurance here. Alternatively, download AIM’s Insurance Guide to help you navigate the various policy details and get answers to any questions.
This updated checklist equips your parent or parent-teacher group for a year of clarity, confidence, and progress. All the essentials are covered, including tips for managing finances, volunteers, digital security, and more. Remember, the key to a successful organization is consistent effort and collaboration. So, unleash the power of this guide together with your team and see your group blossom!