by California State PTA Family Engagement Commission
Elementary school is many families’ first interaction with the school system. When your PTA finds ways to engage families early in the year it can have lasting impacts on your campus, your PTA, and those families. Engaged parents not only help their own children to succeed, but they often volunteer with the PTA to help all children have an amazing school experience.
More than 100 participants from across the state shared their best family engagement tips, tricks, and ideas at the 2022 California State PTA Convention, during a workshop called “Learn, Share, Grow.”
Below are their best suggestions for elementary school engagement (be sure to read our previous post for more ideas on general Family Engagement Events to bring to your school community):
(Reminder: approve all events with your membership and check with your school and the PTA insurance guide before you start planning.)
- Family Fridays– Family members come to class for the first 15 minutes of the day to read with children or play games on the yard before school. If appropriate, invite families to a regular event such as the morning assembly at the flagpole once a week so that families can see some of the morning routines their students do. If weekly is too much, try it once a month. Wrap up the event with coffee and a PTA meet and greet (or your association meeting) to begin building relationships with these families.
- Have a monthly photo stop– Every month on a specified day set up a photo spot for families to take pictures in. This is a great PR thing for your PTA, because you can brand it and remind families to share with you on your social media accounts (note that if your PTA wishes to post directly, they need to have a photo release). Families can help fill your yearbook pages with these photos– and who doesn’t love getting photos of their child?
- Bike rodeo– This is a great event to help students and families understand bike safety. Ask your local police or fire department to help you host the event to collaborate with your community. Students can bring their bikes and helmets to school to share, but you could also have tire filling stations or safety checks. You could even extend the event with a BMX bike assembly!
- Author visits– Many bookstores or libraries have author visits or find a local author who is willing to share their book with the families at a family literacy event. If their book is meant for older audiences, they could read their favorite book from when they were in elementary school. If you do this multiple times in a year, have the students make autograph books that they can fill with the authors’ signatures.
- Drive-in movies– In last month’s blog post we already talked a little about movie nights but this spin on it is fun, especially if your school district is nervous about having lots of people on campus. Families drive onto campus and stay in their cars for a movie night. You will need to have a large screen and good sound system, but most families enjoy this old-timey experience. Offer families the chance to pre-purchase snack packs that are then bundled and delivered to the cars by volunteers.
- STEAM night– STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. California State PTA has a STEAM night program already available for you to adapt as you need it. Families greatly enjoy coming together for a night of exploration together. There are also different assembly companies, local colleges, or museums who would be happy to work with you on your very own STEAM night.
- Multicultural night– Having families share their culture with others is a fantastic way to grow community within our schools. Sharing food, music, dance, photographs, stories, and sports with children helps them to see the world without ever leaving your campus. Your PTA could create a passport that students can get stamped or signed at each booth to encourage them to visit as many booths as they are able. It’s also a fun item for the scrapbook!
We want to share your great family engagement ideas with other PTAs across California. Please take a moment to fill out this simple form and share your family events with us.