How to Survive Your First PTA Meeting

You may think Parent Teacher Association (PTA) moms and dads just organize car pools and bake sales, but joining the PTA is so much more than that.

As a PTA member, you can have the power to create a more positive environment for your child and be a force for change. Plus, according to the Child Trends Databank, children benefit from parental involvement at school.

Here’s what you should think about and consider before you take the leap and join the PTA in your child’s school.

Learn More About the PTA

Many schools and their PTAs may have newsletters and websites that have basic information about the PTA, its meeting times, and location. You may need to pay dues in order to be a member or there might be requirements to join. Try to figure out these specifics by asking veteran PTA members before you show up to the meeting so you’re not caught off guard.

Use Your Strengths

Every member of the PTA is expected to contribute in some way. Think about your strengths and what you bring to the table. Be yourself! If baking isn’t your strong suite, don’t pressure yourself to make cupcakes for the next bake sale. But if you’ve got chops in Photoshop, maybe you can volunteer to create flyers for events. If you’re comfortable speaking in front of an audience, maybe you’ll be the one to address a local congressperson about an issue in your school district.

It may even help to make a list of the things you’re good at, so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to help.

Think About Your School’s Needs

This step can happen before or after your first PTA meeting. You should think about your school needs and the kinds of changes you would like to implement. Sometimes your local PTA look for fresh ideas, and you can be the one to provide them if you’ve done a little bit of planning ahead.

Can’t think of anything to change? Listen to your child. What does she complain about? What does she wish her school had? If she has friends at different schools, what do those schools have that yours doesn’t? Your child can be your biggest inspiration for PTA event ideas.

Observe Before You Act

Now you’re ready for your first PTA meeting with some great ideas ready to go. During your first time around, get a sense of the meeting structure and people in the room. This is especially important if you are new to the school or don’t know anyone in the PTA.

Is there one person who seems to be in charge? If so, chances are you want her on your side when you start pitching ideas. Moreover, if the meetings usually have an agenda, you probably don’t want to interrupt the planned flow with your great idea. See if there is a specific spot for questions or suggestions. You may even want to hang around after your first meeting and chat with other parents. Run your idea past them to see if they will support your pitch in the next PTA meeting.

Being a member of the PTA gives you power. You’ll have better access to teachers and administrators at your child’s school, have a place to discuss policies and trends that are bothering you, and gain support from fellow parents. The National PTA offers resources for parents who may have questions about bullying, the Common Core and more. With a little planning, you can be a positive force at your child’s school.