by Michelle Ciulla Lipkin

Most parents, especially the new kindergarten parents, are very enthusiastic about school during the first month. Often, the first PA/PTA meeting is the best attended of the year. Use the opportunity to start building your school community.

Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:*

First Day of School Breakfast: Hold a breakfast near the school for parents after they drop their kids off the first day. The purpose is to simply socialize over a cup of coffee or tea. All you need to do is pick a local restaurant to go to (make sure they know you are coming) and tell folks to show up. Parents can buy breakfast or just sit and chat. Ask the restaurant if they’d be willing to donate a pot or two of coffee. Free coffee in the morning is a great way to get parents to show up! Keep it casual but make sure the PA/PTA board is there so that they can mingle, say hello, and invite people face to face to the first PA/PTA meeting of the year.

Kindergarten Meet and Greet: Choose a morning or an evening to have a get together for kindergarten parents. New parents are always eager to meet new people and to start creating relationships. See if you can host it in your cafeteria after drop off or in a restaurant nearby. Again, this is a low-key, easy event with the purpose of getting people together. The more comfortable kindergarten parents are the more likely they are to contribute, spend time at the school, and come to PA/PTA meetings.

Back to School Picnic: Many schools arrange a back to school picnic the second or third week of school. Arrange for a potluck dinner in your school yard. Tell everyone to show up at 6:00 pm and enjoy! Invite the teachers too so that they can meet their students’ parents.

First PA/PTA Meeting: If your meeting starts at 6:30 pm, try to have an open period starting at 6:00 pm for people to arrive and talk before the meeting starts. Try to get a donation of food from a local restaurant so you can offer dinner to your guests. It’s a great time to have board members and/or veteran parents mingle with the new parents.