Resource Guide: Programs – Programs Overview

Programs help achieve the goals of the PTA by enabling parents, teachers and the community to gain knowledge and understanding of children, their growth, development, needs and environment.

As the vital link between home and school, the PTA program unlocks all aspects of the PTA so that there can be enthusiastic participation throughout the unit for the entire year. PTA programs guarantee that critical issues will be confronted for the benefit of all children and youth. Success is based on caring and sharing.

Programs work when they meet the needs of students, staff and community. They are the result of careful planning and a great deal of cooperation. The success of any program relates to how well it was organized and presented. Relevant, dynamic programs attract members to meetings. Programs must be timely and responsive to the needs of members. A membership chair can enroll members, but it is the programs that draw members to meetings and involve them in issues.

Program planning with a purpose provides for quality PTAs. Developing a good program calls for skill on the part of the program chair and the committee.

Appoint a committee

The program committee should be appointed immediately after the election of officers. This is essential to provide sufficient time for planning effectively for the coming school year. The committee could include:

  • Program Chair
  • Membership Chair
  • Hospitality Chair
  • Publicity Chair
  • Principal
  • President (ex officio member)

Additional chairmen can be included when their advice and expertise are needed.

The committee should  identify and prioritize the needs, concerns and interests of the membership through surveys, questionnaires and evaluations from programs held.

Other agencies working on the same issues may be contacted as resources. The program committee or executive board may select a theme which describes and unites all programs for the year.

PTAs should be familiar with state and National PTA projects and calendars to discover how they can be adapted to meet their own specific needs. The committee should study the programs, resolutions and legislative programs of the state and National PTAs, and design programs to inform members about issues and create interest in PTA.

The program committee should make an effort to see that all members have an opportunity to take part in the program. A participating membership is an interested one and promotes well- attended meetings.

There are free and available resources that provide programs (i.e., community groups and school personnel). Interesting programs can be arranged or presented by committee chairmen such as health, safety, legislation, pre-school and curriculum.

The chair should:

  • Ask administrators, staff and the PTA board for input on the type of programs they would like presented.
  • Attend region PTA and state PTA workshops to share ideas for programs with other units/ councils.
  • Choose from a wide variety of program possibilities to stimulate attendance.
  • Be sure that the program is in keeping with PTA Historic Purposes and Values. Does it deal with a definite need or interest? Is the topic relevant to the times and the community?
  • Review past programs to see how effective they were and if they accomplished their goal. Follow-up programs may be needed.
  • Publicize the program before and after the meeting. Good publicity ensures attendance and enhances the PTA image.
  • Keep a record of the evaluation, the presenter’s name, address and fee, if any.

Program with a purpose

Planning is the key to successful programs. Evaluate and discuss the following criteria when looking for the program:

  • Is it in harmony with the Mission and Values of the PTA?
  • Does it conform to the basic policies?
  • Does it address a definite need or interest?
  • Is it applicable to the needs of the community?
  • Does it help strengthen home/ school relationships?
  • Does it bring useful knowledge?
  • Does it help implement convention resolutions?
  • Does it encourage active participation of as many members as possible?

Programs should:

  • Promote the Historical Purposes of the PTA
  • Fit the needs of the school and community
  • Embrace interest of the entire membership
  • Translate individual thinking into constructive group action
  • Encourage active participation of as many members as possible
  • Be sufficiently varied in manner of presentation to achieve maximum interest, participation and attendance
  • Start and end on time

Programs may have a multi- pronged approach: speaker, flier, newsletter article (both before and after program – give highlights of information presented), articles in local newspaper.

The best programs and the best use of PTA funds are those that reach many people and help them to become better parents and better PTA members.

Programs may require further action as a result of information learned, e.g., the need to write legislators about pending bills. PTAs should take action when required. A program is not an end in itself. The image of your PTA and the public’s perception of PTA as an effective association gains or loses with each meeting held. Chairs and officers have an opportunity to improve PTA public relations with every PTA function.

Good programs don’t just happen. They take time and effort. A well planned, smoothly run meeting gains members and friends for PTA. Scheduling is the key to success.

The 3-to-1 rule

When planning the year’s activities, PTAs should use the 3-to-1 rule.

For every fundraising activity, there should be at least three non-fundraising projects aimed at helping parents or children.

  • Keep fundraisers and programs in balance. Don’t run them at the same time.
  • Coordinate with other PTAs in the community.
  • Don’t be reluctant to invite people from outside your school or community to attend your programs.

Money spent on parent education is a good investment in the future.

Program planning

  • The program  committee submits its program plans to the executive board for approval (Any necessary financial considerations, such as honorariums or transportation expenses for program participants, should be discussed at this time.)
  • Choose your topic and participants.
    • A catchy title stimulates interest.
    • Your own members have a variety of skills and abilities, so use them whenever possible
    • Consider using school staff and community organizations as resources for theme programs.
    • Contact your region for ideas and resources.
  • Decide on the method of presentation and whether the program will stand alone or will be one of a series. (If it is a series, will it have a single theme or is it your purpose to present a varied but related program?)
  • Select and invite program speakers.
  • Select materials to be distributed.
  • Decide on a means of publicizing the program.

When controversial topics are to be explored, plan for a panel to present all sides of the issue. Always provide representation from all viewpoints of any issue.

Your guest speakers and guests deserve:

  • To be notified well in advance and advised of the particular topic.
  • To be given the date, time and place of meeting, length of speaker’s or panel’s participation.
  • To be informed that the PTA does not ordinarily reimburse speakers expenses.
  • To be reminded about ten days before the meeting (re-checking time, place, schedule, etc.).
  • To have a member appointed to act as host/hostess to each guest from moment of arrival to departure. (Remember to offer an opportunity to freshen up, etc.; offer all the requirements of cordial hospitality.)
  • To meet together and discuss the topic before the formal meeting if a panel is on the program.
  • To have definite directions to the meeting place.
  • To have a copy of your program and announcement.
  • To have needed physical facilities available: table, chairs, water, lectern, microphone. Check them.
  • To be introduced briefly and graciously.
  • To be thanked immediately after the program on behalf of the group.
  • To be invited to the social hour and served first.
  • To receive a letter or note of appreciation promptly.

Advance publicity is essential

Do flyers, emails and announcements. Last minute publicity is ineffective.

Program arrangement tips:

  1. Survey all possible facilities beforehand

    • Programs need not always be on school premises. Consider colleges, city, village and county buildings, public libraries, community centers, YMCA, etc. Be conscious of the needs of your community.
    • Select meeting room according to the size of the audience expected.
    • Be sure selection is centrally located, is convenient to main roads, has adequate parking facilities, has adequate lighting (both inside and out), and has good acoustics.
    • You may want to offer child care during the meeting. There should be two unrelated adults over the age of 18. No diapers should be changed, and hot fluids should be kept outside the room.
  2. Facility arrangements

    • Make application or request for use of facility in writing. Include vital statistics such as date, time, purpose and number of persons expected.
    • Outline furniture arrangements (e.g., dais, long table for guests, seating.
    • Arrange for special equipment such as podium, microphone, projector, screen, blackboard, chalk and eraser, etc.
  3. Monetary arrangements

    • Determine charges for use of the facility, equipment and personnel. (This does not apply to the use of the school building.)
    • Arrange for the payment of charges.
  4. Hospitality

    • Work with those responsible for refreshments
    • Arrange for name tags
    • Arrange for greeters
    • Decide who will greet your guests at the door
    • General membership greeters

Publicizing your programs

A printed program for the year could be distributed as early in the school year as possible. This will arouse members’ interest in the topics and be a constant reminder of the date and subject for discussion of each meeting. It might also include a directory of PTA officers and committee chairmen and school building and/or district information.

The program pamphlet/flier should include:

  • Name of the PTA
  • Name of town and state; name of school district
  • Topic assigned to each meeting and name of speaker
  • Place, date, and time of each meeting
  • Names of officers and program committee members and PTA contact information

The program chair should distribute copies of the program to all members as soon as the program is planned. Copies of the program schedule should be accessible to all members of the school community. Inform of each program as far in advance as possible, using fliers, articles in the PTA newsletter, articles in the local newspaper, emails, the local cable television community bulletin, social media and personal telephone calls when needed.