Learn, Share, Grow: Strategies that Work at Secondary Schools

by California State PTA Family Engagement CommissionOctober 2022 Family Engagement Banner

Connecting with secondary-school students and their families is just as important as when they were in  elementary school. But sometimes the programs that were successful when the students were little don’t work as well in the middle grade or high school years. To help you figure out some outstanding programming for your middle or high school PTA, look no further than these ideas from the Family Engagement Commission’s convention workshop, Learn, Share, Grow.

Partner with students and staff to get the word out.

Your PTA can work with the ASB, student council, or the on-campus video announcement class to get your messages out encouraging students to become members and participate in PTA events. Don’t forget to also work with your site administrators to help push out PTA messages in the weekly announcements, phone calls, or other group messaging used for families.

Students can work with the communications team at your PTA to find ways to reach students in a voice they understand. This is a great opportunity for student leadership and involvement within your PTA.  

Host a college/career night

Even our middle school students can begin to think about what their future holds post high school. A wonderful way to include families is asking them to come share their occupation with students. 

If you are holding a college fair, remember to include community colleges and trade schools as well to give a complete picture of post-graduate options. Financial aid workshops can also be a huge draw for high school families as this is an area of great interest and confusion.  

”Adulting” skill events

Many PTA units have held programming to help middle school/junior high or high school students learn skills they will need as adults that often aren’t taught in school.  One school turned this into a “Game of Life” where students visited different booths to learn skills while moving across their own personal game board. Others  simply hold workshops a few times a year to teach things like budgeting, opening a checking account, understanding investing, cooking, laundry, etc. to help our children prepare for their adult futures. 

Updated game nights

During the  elementary school years, families enjoy board game nights. However, middle and high school students might not be as willing to participate. One school shifted to an e-sports or video game night and found that they had amazing attendance!

Award students a PTA Letter

Just as students earn “Letters” for  sports, academics, and other extracurriculars, one PTSA awards their own letter for qualifying students each year. Your PTA can set its own qualifications: membership, volunteering, serving on the board, etc.  Qualifying students can receive a letter that says “PTA” to go on their letterman jacket alongside their other letters. 

Acknowledge graduating seniors

PTSA schools love to acknowledge seniors and they had many suggestions for ways to honor matriculating students. One school has a graduation walk where the high school seniors return to their elementary schools and walk the halls in their caps and gowns. This allows the elementary students to see what they have to look forward to one day when they graduate; and the teachers love seeing their former students before they move on to their next adventures.  

Many of the schools have PTSA scholarships which require students to have volunteered in PTA/PTSA during their time at the school. This is a win-win– you will get more student volunteers and they can get money for college. You can also encourage them to apply for a scholarship from the California State PTA.

If you have other ideas for middle or high school programming for family engagement please share them with us using this Google form.