PTA wanted to know what men value about PTA and see as obstacles to membership. Therefore, in 2004, we asked our active male leadership for some advice using a poll and leaving lots of room for personal responses. About 2,700 men responded, 98 percent of them PTA members, and a large majority with students in school. Their responses helped us come up with the ABCs of male involvement.
Download the February/March 2008 issue of Our Children for additional articles on Male Involvement.
PTA MORE—Men Organized to Raise Engagement
Organizations in the PTA MORE (Men Organized to Raise Engagement) alliance are dedicated to raising the level of engagement between children and the important men in the lives.
Coalition members of PTA MORE serve as a conduit for greater father and significant male involvement, resulting in positive outcomes and successful relationships for children, parents, schools and communities.
PTA MORE helps PTA leaders and units:
- Work with schools and communities to provide programs that engage fathers and positive male figures in the educational and social development of children,
- Develop male leaders who work with fathers and male role models to enhance positive male parenting and involvement with youth,
- Act as a resource for families, communities and schools on fatherhood initiatives and issues,
- Increase the visibility and outreach of the quality programming of the coalition members.
WATCH D.O.G.S. is a program of the National Center for Fathering focusing on prevention of violence in schools by using the positive influence of fathers and father-figures to provide an unobtrusive presence in the schools, and to be a positive role-model for students.
Through WATCH D.O.G.S. participation:
- Schools get an enhanced sense of security at their buildings, creating an environment conducive to learning.
- Students gain positive male role models, including students without such role models.
- Fathers learn about the complex challenges facing today’s youth.
- Fathers gain awareness of the positive impact they can have on a student’s academic performance, self esteem, and social behavior.
- WATCH D.O.G.S. is for fathers and father-figures who volunteer at least one day each year at an official WATCH D.O.G.S. school. During the day, WATCH D.O.G.S may read with students, eat lunch with them, watch school entrances and hallways, mentor students, and any other assigned activities.
All Pro Dad, founded by Tony Dungy, is a program of Family First, an organization dedicated to strengthening the family.
All Pro Dad programs include:
- All Pro Dad’s Day—A one-hour monthly breakfast held before school where fathers/male role models and their kids can meet, have fun and discuss family topics. Materials for All Pro Dad’s Days are free of charge to local organizers. These materials include videos, father/child discussion cards, door prizes, meeting instructions, brochures, posters and promotional flyers.
- NFL Father and Kids Experience—Held in conjunction with an NFL team, these events include workshops on father and child relationships, motivational talks, and interactive sports and games.
- Play of the Day—A concise daily e-mail of fatherhood advice.
Strong Fathers-Strong Families is a training, technical assistance, and facilitation organization that is focused on strengthening children by strengthening fathers and families. Through staff training, consultation, and event facilitation, Strong Fathers-Strong Families works with Head Starts, public schools, and churches as well as other organizations. The goal is to improve the educational environment in order that men may become more involved in the lives of their children.
10 Ways to Get Men More Involved in PTAs
1. Make the membership pitch relevant to males.
The number one reason why survey respondents joined PTA was “to work to improve the school for the benefit of my child/children.” Therefore, your recruitment materials and your membership pitch should explain how men’s involvement in PTA would benefit their children and their children’s schools. A dad’s involvement in PTA:
- Shows added interest in his child’s education and school activities;
- Shows greater support for his child’s teachers and school; and
- Improves relationships between parents and school personnel.
2. Use specific messaging and advertising aimed at men.
When asked what would encourage men to join PTA, men most frequently answered male-oriented advertising. Eighty-seven percent of the men surveyed believe that PTA values men, but 67 percent don’t believe PTA does a good job promoting male involvement. Be sure to show men’s involvement in your PTA in your communications to members and potential members.
3. Just ask them.
Nearly half of the men who responded to the survey said men don’t join PTA because they aren’t asked. Just asking could pay big dividends in membership recruitment for your PTA! Tips on making “the ask” successful are available in the Go Ahead and Ask handout in the 2005 Annual Resources for PTAs.
4. Ask the women in your PTA to invite the men in their children's lives to join PTA.
Research reveals that women can influence men to join PTA. More than 90 percent of male PTA members indicated in the survey that their spouses, who were already members, contributed largely to their involvement in PTA. Yet both mom and dad are PTA members in less than 50 percent of families with children in school.
5. Create more volunteer opportunities and special events for dads.
Survey respondents stated a preference for hands-on projects and suggested events such as “dads only” events, school carnivals, sports activities, father-daughter and father-son activities, and back-to-school fests.
6. Emphasize that becoming a PTA member doesn't necessarily involve a large time commitment.
Seventy-one percent of the males surveyed indicated that “time” is a barrier to male involvement in PTA. It doesn’t have to be, though. When talking about time, they were referring to the time necessary to volunteer. Assure new members that membership is not synonymous with volunteering. Keep this in mind: If they join, they may eventually become volunteers; but if they never become members, they’ll never become volunteers.
7. Give it to 'em straight.
Almost half of the men surveyed indicated that they want volunteer roles and expectations clearly defined. Telling them the what, when, where, why, and how would make them more likely to join and to volunteer.
8. Communicate with men the way they want to be reached.
Men want fewer meetings, and they want the meetings PTAs do have to be at more convenient times, such as after work. In addition, men want meetings to have a clear agenda and be results-oriented, rather than exploratory sessions on an issue or topic. Men prefer to receive PTA communications in bulleted lists, as summary points, in e-mails, or as quick bits of information in newsletters.
9. Seek male members in the community.
Instead of waiting for men to come to your PTA, take your PTA to where men often meet. Present the PTA message at local service clubs that have a large male contingent, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, or Lions clubs. If men see that other club members support PTA’s work, they might be more likely to join.
10. Recognize and celebrate members.
Publicize your successes. When you start getting more men involved in your PTA, let the community know. Success begets success. Reinforcing men’s contributions, while being mindful of what all members do for PTA, creates a positive atmosphere. Recognize members, thank them often, and celebrate your PTA’s accomplishments and success!
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