Consider for a moment that everything we see in movies and on the Internet is not true. GASP! Let’s let go of our preconceived ideas of the PTA mom — that she’s a pushy, bossy know-it-all and impossible to deal with. The last person you want to make eye contact with across the playground is the PTA president, right? Maybe not? Maybe she is you or me. Maybe she saw an opportunity to get involved, give back, and make some friends in the process.
Joining the PTA is not for everyone, but perhaps it’s worth considering the benefits of being involved before dismissing it completely. There are multiple levels of commitment and responsibility available to those that choose the PTA life. Ask questions and give feedback. I have found when it comes to volunteer positions, there is often some flexibility and always an abundance of gratitude.
I’ve learned a lot since becoming a PTA mom. I previously believed the stereotypes and kept my head down. I was not interested in organizing a bake sale. My inspiration to join stemmed from a job relocation. I was feeling isolated and disconnected from my child and her new school. My experience changed my outlook on PTAs. Maybe it will change yours.
Break the Stereotype
The PTA is full of all types of moms. Sure, the one you see most often is always pounding the pavement in recruitment mode. Maybe she is spewing information while trying to get a commitment from you and then moving on to the next. This looks different for each group of PTA moms, of course, but if they are lucky, they have a natural salesperson who seeks people to support the PTA. Good news? She has that position covered. Great news? Many of the positions are behind the scenes. Some can even be done from the quiet of your own home.
The needs of the PTA are plenty — which allows for people to work to their strengths. Don’t let your interaction with one determine your opinion of the whole group. You might have a new best friend hidden away in the library putting the yearbook together.
Embrace Your Talents
What are you good at? The PTA needs you. I’ve yet to come across someone who says, “We have too many volunteers!” If you have something to offer, give it. Do you enjoy graphic design? Someone needs to create those flyers. Did you have a past life in event planning? Breakfast with Santa isn’t going to organize itself.
Your contribution doesn’t have to be extraordinary. Offer to cut and count boxtops. Help in the serving line at teacher appreciation week. Never has the phrase “it takes a village” seemed so appropriate. The village also includes toddlers! Don’t let having a little one at home deter you. PTA activities are a fun way to introduce your toddler to volunteering.
Be in the know. By actively participating in the PTA, you gain insight to many of the inner workings of the school. Some fundraisers, assemblies, and school activities are determined by the PTA. Instead of rolling your eyes at the latest fundraiser, use your voice to share new ideas. A regular presence at the school allows you to get to know the teachers and staff, creating a better understanding of your child’s day.
While volunteering, I was able to participate in multiple fire drills and an intruder drill. It was comforting to know they really do run those drills and to observe the efficiency and calmness with which they were carried out. My favorite benefit? I made a friend! She is my neighbor from around the block, and I probably would never have gotten to know her had we not joined the PTA.
Ultimately, it’s all about the parents and teachers working together to create the best possible environment for our kids. As stated by the National PTA: PTA’s mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children (pta.org). So, if you are still on the fence about joining PTA, don’t do it for you. Do it for the kids.