One of the primary goals of a parent/teacher group is getting the whole family involved in learning, and evening events and activities are often used to provide unique educational experiences for the student, the family, and the community. At the same time, event planners focus on providing activities that promote a desire among attendees to become part of the group and that encourage an enthusiasm for learning. With these goals in mind, here are three basic steps for getting an event up and running.
One: Choose Your Event
There are many, many exciting events possible that satisfy learning goals, engage whole families in learning, and provide a fun, friendly atmosphere.
- A family reading night with a seasonal theme, such as a focus on Dr. Seuss, camping, or winter fun, is a great way to bring families out in the evening. By using a theme, you also have a clear target when planning each of the activities for the night.
- Engage families with a math night. Set up games and technology that focus on fun math activities and help families break through the idea that math is hard. Instead, get them thinking about how commonly math is used throughout life in fun and meaningful ways. This event is also a great way to introduce parents and students to the technology used in the classroom. For example, share i-Ready Math and Reading diagnostic reports while kids are playing related games to help parents understand their child’s strengths and areas for improvement..
- An arts and crafts night, a pool party in the winter (held at a local high school,) a tailgate party, parent-child basketball games, and service projects are other great ideas that schools have implemented successfully.
Remember to start with a clear learning objective and choose activities that support that end goal.
Two: Figure Out the Logistics
The next step is figuring out how to make the event work. Start by answering basic questions such as where you’ll hold the event, when the event can happen, and how many people you’ll need to provide the activities. For example, if you’re holding a walk-a-thon, will you need to provide access to restrooms or block off roads?
As you consider dates and times, don’t forget to take seasonal obligations into account. For example, schedules tend to become very tight during November and December; try hosting an event in January to avoid conflicting events. You may also want to avoid scheduling events during testing windows.
If you have an active group of parent volunteers, you may find that you have a lot of professional and amateur skills and talents at your disposal. With a lot of helping hands, you can cover a lot of ground pretty quickly when promoting and setting up the event.
Three: Focus on Important Details
When it comes to crucial details, there’s quite a list! Here are some examples
- Does the school district have an insurance policy that covers your event?
- Will you need to make arrangements with the facilities staff to have heat or air conditioning running? Will they be responsible for cleaning up after the event?
- How will you keep children from wandering into other areas of the school or event location?
- Will you offer food and drink? How will you determine amounts?
- How much will the event cost? Do you need to charge a fee for attendance? Don’t forget to include potential costs such as paying special presenters (such as i-Ready Math professionals,) materials fees, rental equipment, decorations, and publicity for the event.
If other events have been planned and hosted in the past, use planning notes and advice from those individuals who were in charge. This is a great way to recognize some of those details that you may otherwise overlook until the actual night of the event.
Host the Event
After carrying out these three steps, you should be nearly ready to go. It’s time to pass out flyers and get kids excited about bringing their families. Don’t forget to take your own notes along the way, so that future event planners can learn from your experience.