Every school year brings a raft of brand new parents and carers into the school community – and a heap of untapped potential volunteers for the PTA! Make them feel welcome – and introduce your team of fabulous fundraisers – by holding a New Starters event at the start of the school year.
Here are some ideas to get you started!
Boo hoo / Woo hoo breakfast – invite parents of new starters to join you for a consolation/celebration coffee and pastry on the first day of school. Make sure you have lots of tissues to hand! This is a good time to chat to new mums, dads and carers about the great work of the PTA. And don’t forget to emphasise the social side of volunteering, this can be a fab way for them to meet new friends and get involved in school life!
Coffee morning – with or without kids in tow! This can provide the perfect setting for the PTA to spread the word about how fundraising works in the school and how they can get involved, in a more informal setting than a scary meeting! Take small donations for hot drinks/squash, have some colouring or Lego for the kids and help new parents get to know each other.
Treasure Hunt – this could be a great way to help children and parents find their way around their new school! Sell maps with a set of clues that lead them around different parts of the school, and make sure you get some little prizes or treats for when they’ve completed the challenge. You could also sell refreshments and hold a raffle to bring in more cash! And don’t forget to have a PTA display or stall to remind parents about the volunteering community within the school!
Back-to-school BBQ, family disco, magic show or film night – hold a family event early in September that will encourage pupils and their families to get to know each other, and build a sense of community spirit and fun. Lay on simple food and drink like hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate and cakes so that the committee can focus on chatting with new parents and building a fun atmosphere.
Date and Venue
Let’s set a date!
Where and when you hold your event will largely depend on which type of get together you decide to hold, but if you’re able to utilise the indoor and/or outdoor space at your school this will really help those newbie families get to know the school layout.
A smaller event like a coffee morning would work well in a spare classroom or school hall, and if your school staggers their Reception intake then you might want to wait until all the kids are settled in before organising your get together.
If you’re going for a back-to-school whole family event, make it a weekend affair to maximise attendance and profit, and don’t forget to have a rainy day backup plan if you’re holding an outdoor function!
Food and Drink
Simplicity is the key!
If you’re holding a coffee morning or breakfast get together, some hot drinks and pastries are quick and easy. You could charge a small amount to cover costs, or consider a donation box if you prefer. Maybe a local bakery would consider donating some croissants or cupcakes? Don’t forget to plug in your urn in plenty of time!
For a larger family event, make it simple and try baked potatoes or hot dogs, or perhaps the local fish and chip shop could help out with a deal? A bar for the adults and tuck shop for the kids would also be profit-winners and don’t require too many volunteers or man hours in advance.
Get the word out there!
The start of the school year is a perfect time to seek out potential new volunteers and committee members, so you’ll want to make sure your event is well promoted (and busts the myth of the “cliquey PTA!”) School newsletters, notes in book bags and posters in classroom windows all work well, but how about a more personal approach? You could ask the Reception teachers if the kids can spend an afternoon making invites to take home, which will make the invite feel much more personal.
A small raffle with some nice prizes is a great way to promote an event and make some cash (make sure you have a gambling licence!) or you could seek a sponsorship deal with a local business – parents can be a great source of useful local connections!
If your school holds an information evening for new parents, this is the perfect time to promote the PTA and advertise any upcoming events. Making the PTA visible is crucial if you want to get them onside! See our blog for some great ideas about how to welcome new families and how to organise a useful Welcome Pack.
A few more ideas...
This is a crucial time of year to promote the PTA and the great work that you do to support the children’s learning, and create community spirit. A colourful display board with photos of the fun events you hold, how much money you raise and how it is spent can really help parents understand more about the PTA and the vital role it plays within the school.
Be visible! New parents may feel overwhelmed by a sea of kids and parents at an event, so you’ll want the committee members and volunteers to stand out from the crowd. Personalised t-shirts, name badges or sashes are ideal for this purpose, and can be useful for other PTA events as well. And don’t forget your smile 😉
Have a sign-up sheet handy to take details of anyone who shows an interest in volunteering or joining the committee, and consider giving them your contact details too so they know where to find you. Or……. just take their email address and invite them to join your PTA on PTAsocial! That way they can receive all PTA communications straight to their inbox, and access event rotas online for quick, easy and manageable volunteering. No more faffing around with paper reply slips, or a gazillion Whatsapp groups and Facebook threads. Hurrah!
Good luck with your New Starters events – and let us know if we can help you…
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