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How to Plan a PTA Back-to-School Night

September 30, 2021

How to Plan a PTA Back-to-School Night

The start of the school year is such a busy and exciting time for meeting new teachers, making new friends, and preparing for the year ahead.

It's also a great time to get parents, teachers, and the whole school community involved in the PTA. Lots of different events happen when the school year kicks off, and they are all great opportunities to shine a light on the PTA.

One of the biggest new school year events is Back-to-School Night.

Whether your school calls it Back-to-School night, Open House, or Curriculum Night, it's the perfect time to connect with families and introduce them to the role the PTA plays in the school.

When you're planning Back-to-School, you'll want to make sure you share all of the amazing work the PTA does and inform the school community how their membership can make a difference.

We asked schools across the country what they do to ensure a successful Back-to-School night and are sharing their best tips with you!

Back to school night tips

Offer families incentives to join the PTA at Back-to-School Night

Back-to-School night is exciting for families and you can amp up the fun even more by offering really cool, one-night-only incentives for joining the PTA. Sweetening the pot with a little something extra is a great way to get families to sign up that night.

  • Offer a tangible joining incentive. To get students involved in the PTA, offer spirit wear to the first 100 that join
  • Feature door prize drawings, store gift cards, and school t-shirts to encourage parents to join at the Open House
  • Let people who join press their luck on a spinning wheel with assorted prizes
  • Enter everyone who joins that night into a raffle for a book bag full of school supplies or a movie package
  • Run a PTA membership drawing on Back-to-School Night with giving everyone who joined during that week prior a chance to win school supplies

Make it easy to join at the event

When you make signing up for your PTA as simple as possible and bring along the tools to make it happen at the Open House, it gives families another reason to join!

You can make the entire experience really easy by going paperless with devices, QR codes, and online or mobile payments.

  • Have iPads or other devices available at the event so people can join on the spot
  • Go paperless by creating a QR code for your online store so people can scan with their phones and sign up online

Engage and educate families about the PTA

Having an interested audience at Back-to-School night is a perfect change to tell families things they may not know about your organization and all of the work you do to bring the school community together.

Having plenty of examples of the role the PTA plays goes a long way toward getting families excited to join and get involved.

  • Learn what you can about new families so you can make them feel welcome
  • Create a QR code that is linked to your online store and print them out on business card sized paper to hand out to families
  • Make sure you separate your membership table and your volunteer table so you don't give the impression that volunteering is a requirement for membership
  • Ask teachers to promote joining the PTA to parents
  • Provide a list of activities and events the PTA sponsors, including scholarship awards to eligible seniors–it's a great incentive for senior families to become members
  • Make clear that there is a role for everyone in the PTA whether they're a stay at home parent or a working parent
  • Show the PTA is truly there to be a bridge and support beyond events and fundraisers by sharing information about the school and district you wished you had known

Everyone loves free stuff

A super effective way to draw people to your table is good old SWAG. Whether you're giving away a small token, high value items, or a chance to win something desirable, a freebie is always a crowdpleaser!

  • Balloons get attention and when you combine them with a small, free snack, kids and parents will be drawn to you like a magnet
  • Pass out ice cream treats along with a PTA flyer
  • Have a Prize Wheel for the children and while the children take a spin, it's a perfect opportunity to talk to their parent
  • Raffles or a giveaway like popcorn or popsicles are hugely popular
  • Offer mints, cookies, brownie bites, and small bottles of water to get people's attention
  • Create a PTA table with brilliant decor, share handouts with the PTA mission, and give out essentials kits to each member
  • Food trucks are always greatly anticipated