Originally published The Power of Class Reps by Plansocial in August 25, 2016
With a new term just around the corner, you may already be starting to think about how to get more parents on board with your PTA this year. Whether you’ve lost a few valuable members because their kids left school, or if you just feel that you need to bolster the ranks, let’s face it — when it comes to a PTA, there’s no such thing as too many volunteers!
One of the easiest and most useful ways to get parents involved is through a Class Rep strategy (known as Room Parents by PTAs across the pond!). This is a simple way to get information and feedback between the PTA and parents, without being too labour-intensive
The idea is that each class has a representative (or ‘Rep’ – geddit?) who acts as a point of contact, and keeps them updated about PTA events and opportunities to volunteer. They also put forward fundraising event ideas for discussion and – of course — how they’d like to see the money spent.
So the first step is to gather people’s details for the first class PTA social event… and at least one volunteer to organise it. Get your paper class list up outside the classroom door or sent home with the kids, with name, child’s name, email and phone number. And/or get the school office to send a school-wide email to contact your PTA. If your PTA uses PlanSocial, parents can just sign up directly to your private online community to set up their profile and start volunteering.
Class socials are a fantastic way for parents to mingle, make new friends and find out how to get involved in benefiting the school and children. After all, volunteering is much less daunting when you aren’t going in alone and the responsibility is shared.
If parents hesitate to step forward as a Class Rep, explain that the role is actually more facilitator or coordinator rather than ‘Class Dogsbody’! Make sure all parents know that the norm is for everyone to help a little — a joint effort is what makes the community great. Be sure to be open, democratic and super-friendly at every step to shake that cliched portrayal of PTA cliques!
Anyway, it’s a great opportunity to learn or develop some new personal skills, as well as giving back to your school and community. Many Class Reps establish strong relationships with teachers and school staff, gain valuable insight into school life and become a respected parent voice. (If that doesn’t work, then appeal to the party animals amongst them, pointing out that they get the final say on the date and venue for class nights out! No more diary clashes…)
Hopefully, you won’t be short of volunteers for the role, but if it still seems too much for just one parent, then try sharing the position to make it even easier,
e.g. taking it in turns to attend parent forum meetings.
So kick off the new school year with a bang with a parents’ social to let people know how much fun the PTA can be. Here are a few popular ideas to get you started:
Picnic in the Park
Not all parents find it easy to get a babysitter, so a picnic in the park is an ideal way to get to know each other while their kids wear themselves out! It’s also budget-friendly, suitable for all ages and a great way to involve working parents if held on a weekend. Bring along cricket sets, footballs and kites, and ask each parent to bring along some food to share too. We’ve also got some fun ice-breaker games you could try on our blog and pinterest board.
Board Game Evening
Create some friendly parental rivalry by holding a board game evening – cheap and easy to run, but popular. Opt for nostalgic games such as Popup Pirate, Kerplunk or Operation, or get a little more sophisticated with Scrabble, Cluedo and Monopoly. There are heaps of options available to you. Ask parents to bring their fave nibbles and drinks too, and you can guarantee you are in for a
Coffee Morning / Breakfast
Ask parents to pop along after school drop-off, and donate pastries, cupcakes or muffins. Or how about breakfast? Egg or bacon rolls can be prepped in advance or whipped up in minutes. For parents with smaller kids, lay on some soft play equipment, games or toys to help keep them entertained and give the adults a chance to chat!
It’s just the start
Remember – parents might be restricted by work schedules and childcare arrangements, so try and change it up regularly so that everyone has the opportunity to attend at some point. A great class social is a powerful tool to make a great impression on new parents, and introduce the PTA in a positive light. It’s their route to getting more involved in school life — it’s fun, sociable, impactful and highly rewarding.
What great socials have your class reps organised before? How did they go? We can’t wait to hear your success stories – share them in the comments below!.
PlanSocial provides online payment and community hubs for schools and PTAs. List events and volunteer opportunities, sell tickets and collect online donations, connect parents directly with others in their kids’ classes to build a strong community spirit. Create a hub for your school community in 2 minutes.