By Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Family Engagement
To be as inclusive as possible, every PTA needs to provide opportunities for all parents and families to be involved. So far on the blog we’ve given you some ideas for engaging middle school families, men, high school families, and military families. Today we want to share some ideas for including on your campus working parents whose schedules are inflexible or particularly demanding.
Provide creative ways for working parents to donate time and participate.
They can help complete tasks at home that still benefit the PTA. Helping your PTA create fliers, social media posts, or plan events are all things that working parents can do on their own time, off campus. Offering hybrid meetings using Zoom or other teleconferencing platforms helps parents who want to attend meetings be present at your association or school meetings.
Be realistic about your expectations for your volunteers, especially working parents.
Don’t schedule meetings or events at 10 a.m. and then bemoan the fact that the same parents keep attending. Try to not only vary your meeting times, but also provide opportunities for volunteering and participation at different times of the day — mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends — to give working families more chances to help out and participate.
Make sure Communications are clear and transparent.
All parents are busy — but working parents especially don’t have extra time to figure out where or when your meetings are happening. Have a one-stop shop where parents can find information about events, volunteering opportunities, etc. — this could be a website, Facebook page, or using an app that parents have access to.
We have loads more ideas for you in our communicating effectively blog post.
Be generous with your gratitude.
All PTA volunteers should be recognized and thanked for their time and talent regularly. As previously noted, working parents may not be able to attend meetings to hear thanks given to those at the table. To be as inclusive as possible, consider new ways to acknowledge everyone who contributes publicly — in your newsletter or listed on your association agenda.
Remember to ask even the busiest working parents to help.
Sometimes these parents think that you don’t need them or that you don’t want their help. You can fit the request to the parents’ specific interests. For example, if there’s a parent in a top executive position, ask them to share their skills during a job fair or to connect you with their business for donations or services. When your PTA branches out and seeks volunteers beyond “the usual suspects,” you make it clear that you value and appreciate assistance from every family at the school..
Every parent wants to feel connected to their child’s school, let’s work together to give them that opportunity and make every parent a part of PTA.