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Pretty much everyone in the United States has heard of the PTA or PTO, or other school community support group but not many people really know what they are, what they do, and how they can get involved.
Last year, as our family adjusted to having a kid in 5-days-a-week school, I have to admit we probably dropped the ball when trying to help out at school last year despite my volunteering in the classroom. It was only near the end of the school year that we figured out how to interact with the PTO and I made it a point as Bootsie started first grade that I was going to get more involved.
I hope that my first-hand, beginner knowledge of what the PTO is and how you can help your student’s school.
1) What is a PTO?
Whether it’s a (PTA) Parent-Teacher Association or a (PTO) Parent-Teacher Organization at your local school, the objective of these groups is to support the school and its students. How that is done varies from school to school depending on what type of school it is (elementary, middle or high school), how involved it’s volunteer group is, and what type of funding the group has access to.
While most interactions that parents have with the PTO are call outs to parents asking for volunteers to help with school events and asking for the school community to participate in fundraising events, there are a lot of things that the PTO are involved in that you never hear about.
2) If I’m a PTO member, do I have to volunteer?
In this day and age of two income families, long commutes, and other obligations, it’s understandable that many parents are left with little free time to volunteer at their child’s school.
With that being said, any time or support you can give your school is not only important but greatly appreciated.
I’ve read in multiple places that researchers have been studying the effects of parent involvement on their children’s academic success. Reports consistently say that children with parents involved in their education and schools earn better grades, score higher on tests, and much more.
3) What types of events do PTO volunteers help with?
Volunteers are needed pretty much every day of the school year and depending on what events are happening at your school, parent participate in helping the following events run smoothly:
- School Picture Days
- School Dances
- Vision Testing
- Hearing Testing
- Book Fair
- Any event that your student participates in either during school or after school hours
4) Where do the PTO fundraiser dollars go?
Where the money goes comes down to the amount of funds the group has access to.
If a PTO is flush with cash, the projects that the PTO fund usually are big bold projects that everyone can see. Some of these include:
- school billboards and signs
- playground equipment
- computers for classrooms
- books for the library
- salaries for key staff members (librarians, art teachers and music teachers) that aren’t covered by local school district budgets
On a smaller scale, PTO’s fund:
- Scholastic supplemental newspapers
- school supplies for classrooms
- thank you events for teachers and staff
5) Who can be a member of the PTO?
- School Staff
- The Board Members
- Anyone in the local community who wants to support the school
Are you a PTO member? Are you a volunteer?
Share your experiences and help other parents learn more about how they can support their student’s school.