New and incumbent parent teacher group officers know the success of their group is often tied to meeting attendance. But, measuring attendance alone is not how to run a PTO. It’s about what you do with the people you have that shows you know how to run a PTO. However, a parent teacher group needs warm bodies to get anything accomplished, whether that’s establishing a quorum or making sure there are enough volunteers for the next event. To help you with how to run a PTO, here are some tips to help you boost meeting attendance.
How to Run a PTO: The Right Number of Attendees
Many parent teacher groups gauge their success by how many people show up to the meetings. That’s not a great measure of your group’s impact. A hundred people who don’t accomplish anything are far less successful than 25 people who make it happen. Your primary attendance goal for meetings should be to regularly reach your voting quorum. You need enough people to attend meetings that you can actually make decisions. Attendees beyond that number are nice, especially for drafting volunteers, but for the primary focus of your meetings it’s about reaching a quorum.
Instead of judging your parent teacher group’s success on attendance, try to focus on what you accomplish throughout the year. What decisions did you make? What actions did you take? Did you accomplish your goals? That’s how to run a PTO the right way.
Schedule Evening Meetings
This may come as a no-brainer to some group officers, but schedule your meetings in the evenings. Many parents who would like to attend and participate in your parent teacher group work during the day. Scheduling your meetings during the day or the afternoon commute keeps working parents who want to participate sidelined.
In the same vein, many parents also have small children they take care of during the day. Finding childcare for young children can be difficult during the day and early evening. Moving your meetings to a later time in the evening helps interested parents find childcare solutions more easily.
How to Run a PTO: Childcare Options
One way to help parents make your meetings is to offer a childcare option on location. This is especially helpful for single parents who may not have a spouse, older sibling, or family member who can watch the child. One of the simplest solutions is to open the school gymnasium to the kids and let them play. This requires minimal supervision and places the kids in a separate location as not to disturb your meeting.
Looking for more helpful tips on how to run a PTO? View How to Plan a Successful PTO Meeting
Door Prizes & Raffles
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. If you consistently fail to reach quorum or have a big event coming up you know you need a lot of volunteers for, it’s time for the incentives. Consider offering a few door prizes if you need to boost one meeting’s attendance. For long-term attendance help offer a year-end raffle. Every group meeting attended gets a person one entry into the drawing. Make sure to get a prize that’s nice enough to keep a person’s interest for months to come.
How to Run a PTO: Bookend Your Meetings
Getting to a parent teacher group meeting can be a hassle. A great way to allay that hassle for many interested parents is by bookending your group meeting with other functions at the school. Recitals, parent teacher nights, performances, and sporting events all draw a crowd of parents to your location. By placing your meeting before or after a school event it’s easy for parents to say yes to attending your meeting, they’re already there.
If there’s not an event scheduled for your school you can piggyback off, you can create your own. This is how to run a PTO like a pro. Create a complementary attendance draw for before your meeting. You can invite a guest speaker or pitch a student presentation/exhibition that will interest parents to attend.
Heavy Snacks & Hors D’oeuvres
Many parent teacher group veterans know the way to parents’ hearts is through their stomachs. Offering food can be a great tactic for drawing attendees to your meeting. They get the benefit of attending the meeting and not having to make dinner arrangements.
Many groups offer pizza or some other inexpensive meal option to help boost attendance. That works great, but so do heavy snacks and hors d’oeuvres. These make the event less meal then a meeting and more of a snacking meeting. Especially as many inexpensive food options are heavy and tend to make people sleepy. You want people alert and engaged with your meeting.
Offering heavy snacks and hors d’oeuvres makes it light enough for people to enjoy who don’t need dinner, but also offer enough that the parents who are foregoing dinner to make your meeting don’t go hungry.
How to Run a PTO: Plan Social Time
One benefit of joining a parent teacher group is to engage with your community and develop friendships with likeminded parents. Some parents have very little “adult time” in their schedule. They interact with children more than adults on a regular basis. Getting out of the house and away from home or work responsibilities can be an opportunity to relax and enjoy social company.
These are the type of parents you want for your parent teacher group. They’re engaged and they want to be at the meetings. Scheduling a little social time before or after your meetings can help parents get rooted in your organization’s activities and members.
With the tips you can boost your group’s attendance and show your group you know how to run a PTO like a pro. Now, that you have the attendance to make decisions and the volunteers to get things done, consider your group’s insurance needs. AIM offers insurance coverage from single event liability to embezzlement coverage, and more. Visit HERE to see all AIM’s coverage options and protect your parent teacher group.