Getting Involved in Your School’s Parent Teacher Association/ Parent Teacher Organization

If you have ever wanted to be more involved in your child’s school but were not sure how to get started, your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent teacher Organization (PTO) may be a group that you want to check out.

First, we should clarify the difference between the PTA and the PTO. The PTA is an organization that works at the national level. Local schools have chapters that are involved with the larger organization. A PTO is a local organization that exists at the school level. These are independent groups. But there are some good resources for getting a PTO started in your school.

Both groups work to bring parents into the schools to volunteer. And both groups work to raise funds for the schools and school programs. Sometimes these are extra programs, like band or art classes. Or the PTA/PTO may sponsor a book fair to raise money for the school library. This can be a great way to help support your school and its programs.

The PTA/PTO also gives parents the opportunity to meet and work with teachers and other school personnel. So as a parent, you can get to know your school staff better. You also have a forum for sharing your thoughts about the school and the students’ experiences with the people who make the decisions in the school. And you can be included in that decision-making. This may be especially important if you have some interests that might help to expand the school’s programs. For example, see one mom’s blog post about how becoming involved with her PTA/PTO allowed her to make the group more aware of and more helpful to students with special needs.

Being a part of the PTA/PTO also allows parents to know what is happening in their children’s school. Because the PTA/PTO often plans school events, you will not only hear about them first, but also have the opportunity to help out.  And since teachers and school staff also participate, you will also learn about the other events that are happening in and around the school.

Joining the PTA/PTO also allows you to meet other parents.  School is not always necessarily an easy experience for children or parents and having other parents to share stories, advice, and interests with can be very helpful. Plus, all of you are doing good things for the school at the same time.

And that brings us to perhaps one of the most important reasons for joining your PTA/PTO: being a good role model for your student. By working to do good things for your child’s school, you are showing her that you value school. You are also modeling how to volunteer. You can talk to your child about why it can be important to volunteer to help others. And maybe he can help out at some of the PTA/PTO activities as well.

We know how busy parents can get. And for some it just may not be realistic to commit to being a member of the PTA/PTO. Many PTA/PTO groups need extra parent volunteers for single events. So this lower commitment can still give you a chance be involved with your school’s PTA/PTO.

If you are interested in helping out in your school’s PTA/PTO but are not sure how to get involved, call your school’s office. They will put you in contact with the PTA/PTO. Whatever you can do to help with your school’s PTA/PTO is likely to benefit not only your child but also all the other students.

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