WV Parents Action for Wellness Network
How to Start a Parent Group
Project Description: Most schools have some type of parent group that meets once a month as a board and holds general type meetings for members to have a voice and discuss issues. These groups are typically PTA or PTO groups. What if your child’s school does not have one? Or what if there is a specific issue in the school that many parents feel needs addressed? Anti -bullying, inclusion & acceptance, mental health, etc. are hot topics lately. Start a group or school parent led task force to help kids and teachers with these subjects.
How the project got started: I started a wellness committee attached to our school PTO. I saw the need for the introduction of wellness programs and activities at the school. This lead to starting a Youth Wellness Council a couple of years later to engage parents and youth to work together on these issues.
5 steps to start this project:
- Talk to other parents and see what concerns they have for their own child and the school.
- Hold an informal parent meeting to survey if there is a need for a parent group to assist the school. (make sure there is food)
- Talk to the principal at the school and teachers to find out if they feel the need for a parent group to help the school and what concerns they may have about students as a whole.
- Decide if you want to be an independent entity or nonprofit 501c3 or attached to the school if you will be fundraising.
- Bring in community partners that might have the same concerns to help you reach your goals. .
What did you learn? Through starting a parent group, you will learn pretty quickly to delegate and compromise. You also will have challenges and obstacles but you need to push through and from time to time “think out of the box.”
Did you have a “A-Ha or Light Bulb” Moment? You don’t have to create a big group. Quality over quantity sometimes is best when starting and build upon that small group and ask them to invite others after you establish your goal and mission as a group.
What was the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? Deciding out of so many great ideas that parents submitted, which program or activity to do first. Blind voting or surveying a larger group is always a good way to decide what to do as a group.
What resources, videos, websites helped you put your project/strategy together?
How have you engaged the following partners in your strategy?
…parents and grandparents? Invite all caregivers or the extended family members in the parent group meetings.
…students? Have a fun activity for students to do as their parents are attending a meeting when meetings are held after school.
…teachers and support staff? Invite teachers to the meetings and encourage a collaboration of parents and school staff on any events or activities. Ask the teachers to give you a wish list of three things they would want for their classroom, tangible or not. Tell them that you are conducting a survey to find out what the school needs as a whole.
…principal/administrators? Always engage the principal because they are the captain of the ship. Conduct a research interview with the principal to find out what they might see as a priority in the school to help students.
…business/labor/community partners? Invite these people to the meetings once you are established. Make a good solid team of parents, students, teachers/school staff, and partners.