Best Ways to Welcome Families Back to School
Fresh Tips for Making Families Feel Welcome (for PTAs & PTOs)
Family participation is essential to any PTA’s or PTO’s success, and making parents and caregivers feel welcome in your school community is a key step to recruiting needed helpers and leaders. Set up your parent group for success this school year with these fresh tips for welcoming families back to school!
Consistent & Clear Communication
Even before school begins, open the lines of communication with school parents, and keep those lines open throughout the school year for maximum volunteer potential and participation in your school.
Always maintain a welcoming tone that treats your parents as partners in the school community. Using terms like "we" and "our" when referring to your goals and how you will achieve them.
Send parent welcome letters from your parent group and/or as the room parent (if that is a role you take on this year).
Make your parent organization’s website the go-to place for all important information, from your group’s mission statement to Back-to-School Night details to upcoming meetings, events, and volunteer needs.
For families that speak another language, offering up a translated version of your website is easy with Google’s translation tool.
Parent involvement leads to increased student success! Let parents know that their opinions, ideas, and help are wanted, no matter how big or small.
Even parents with crazy work schedules can pitch in when time allows – there are school volunteer jobs that fit every busy schedule, including remote volunteer opportunities. Encourage them to participate however and whenever they can… because all contributions are valuable and help build parent commitment to the school community. Someone who participates in ticket sales at the Fall Carnival this year, may volunteer to help Chair the event next year. .
Highlight all the benefits of parents participating in their children’s education:
making a positive impact on their child by demonstrating that their education is important to your family
making new adult friends
honing their leadership skills or other skills and talents while benefiting the school,
helping overcome budget gaps by donating their time and resources
having their voice heard
being a part of something bigger (creating a great school community for ALL our kids!)
Encourage attendance at key parent meetings by recruiting teen or adult volunteers to offer free childcare during the meetings. This will take one less obstacle out of the participation equation. (Pro Tip: Tap into High School student groups such as Student Council and National Honor Society to find volunteers to help – it’s likely that these teens are looking for ways to fulfill their service-hours requirements, so it’s a win-win for everyone!)
Give parents another way to attend key meetings by streaming them virtually via a free video chat app. (Pro Tip: FaceTime allows up to 32 people to join and Zoom allows up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes at no cost.)
Make it EASY to participate with free online SignUps!
Nothing is more convincing than someone excited about their cause and passionate about including any and every person interested in helping out.
At meetings and events, recruit key helpers – teachers, parent leaders, the principal, administrators, etc. – as greeters and conversation starters to help parents feel welcome. (Pro Tip: Plan for bilingual speakers or student helpers to attend all activities and provide badges that identify the languages they speak.)
Share your group’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and/or Twitter pages and engage your school families audience via social media, as well. Check out our fun (and free) downloadable social graphics and these tips for engaging and recruiting participants via social media to help in this task!
Host several family-friendly activities to help parents get comfortable with the idea that this is THEIR family's campus and community. Open the lines of communication with fun welcoming activities like those listed below. (Pro Tip: Bring a flier with QR codes to the school calendar that include your social media pages and Volunteer Interest SignUp sheet so parents can get information on how to participate and stay up-to-date on school happenings.)
Popsicles on the Playground - Host several grade-level open playdates on the school grounds or at a local park facilitated by faculty or parent group leaders.
Muffin Mornings - Welcome parents by grade level to coffee with the principal after dropoff the first week of school. (Pro Tip: Use SignUp to coordinate hospitality team needs such as bringing/making coffee, muffins, plates, napkins, etc.)
Donuts and Dues - Have a parent-group membership roundup with donuts for families who pay their dues and join the PTA/PTO. (Pro Tip: Use a simple membership platform, like our partner MemberHub, to collect dues using a smartphone and then manage all your parent group's membership needs.)
Popcorn after PickUp - Invite parents to park and meet up for an after-school recess hosted by faculty, staff and parent leaders.
Cupcake Road Crew - Bring a few parent group leaders, teachers and administrators + boxes of cupcakes to host pop-up back-to-school parties at the playgrounds of large apartment complexes and HOAs where many families live.
Sensational Social Media Props - Create engaging backdrops and fun props (like a giant yard stick held by the school mascot measuring kids' heights) so kids and families WANT to photograph themselves at the first day of school and at Back-to-School Night. (Pro Tip: Post a sign with a hashtag and QR Code to your school & parent-group social media accounts so parents can join your virtual community.)
Parent/Student lunches - Invite parents and caregivers to sign up to attend lunch one day with their students during the first month of school. This helps parents become comfortable coming to school and they get to meet their child's new classmates.
For all your ‘welcome back to school” events, streamline your planning process with free online SignUps! E-calendar syncing and automated participant reminders help keep everyone on track AND eliminate the stress-inducing back-and-forth emails and phone calls. SignUp’s got your back!