A part of what makes a school community great is its diversity and sense of connection. Strong communities are essential to the success of your school in many ways, from increasing parent involvement to raising money for programs and capital improvements. One way to connect with your community is by organizing fun events that everyone can enjoy.
If you’re looking to build a stronger community, here are ways you can do so within your school system. In addition to these suggestions, there are many other small steps you can take toward creating a more active school community. It’s also important to note that any community-building efforts should be collaborative since it takes the joint efforts of everyone in the school system to create meaningful change and lasting benefits.
Have Adult Mentor Volunteers
Most students need adult mentors — people they can confide in, who have their best interests at heart, and with whom they can discuss school-related issues. Some schools recognize that not all teachers are capable of providing a student with a positive role model hence it’s important to provide students with several mentoring opportunities outside of school. Mentor volunteers can come from any aspect of society: neighbors, clergy members, and local business leaders.
Host a Back to School Event
Back-to-school events are always a great way to get your community involved. Many parents may have taken their kids out of school last year, so an event can help them feel comfortable and get excited about sending their children back again. While there are plenty of ways you can go about hosting such an event, one thing is for sure: it should be fun and informative!
Is your school looking for new and innovative ways to raise money? Fundraising events are great because they involve students, parents, and other members of your community who are invested in your success. In addition, these fundraising events can have a more lasting impact because instead of sending money home, people will have an opportunity to get involved with you on a personal level.
Build Relationships with Local Businesses
By partnering with local businesses, you can provide incentives for your students and their families. It helps build a stronger community where people feel that they’re involved and part of a network. Families will want to know more about what is going on in your school district, especially if there are ways they can contribute or get discounts. Talk with local business owners about how they can sponsor things like field trips or volunteer opportunities at your school. This way, everyone wins.
Local businesses often enjoy helping out local schools, so you can use a contest as an opportunity to raise funds for your school. Have teams compete against each other for something like a best-decorated cafeteria contest—the winning team gets money for their school, and businesses win brand recognition and maybe even some tax breaks. It’s a win-win!
Hold An Open House
An open house is a great way to introduce new families or returning families to your school. Whether you’re running an after-school program, organizing summer camps, or looking for volunteers, an open house can be a great way to spread information and build community. You can even use an open house as a fundraiser by charging admission—after all, it’s not work if you charge people for it! Check out our tips on how to run an after-school program that builds community.
Ask for Volunteers with Improving School Premises
Asking parents and other community members to volunteer their time by painting, cleaning, and improving their local school premises will go a long way towards building support for your school. It also gives you access to skills that may be a little beyond your expertise, giving your school’s learning environment an extra boost. If you can make it rewarding enough, volunteers could even become a regular fixture at your school with duties including tidying up classrooms, leading morning assemblies, or supervising after-school sports.
- You can ask volunteers to plant trees and flowers at your school. Gardens are a great learning space and encourage children and adults alike to take an interest in healthy eating and caring for the environment. Gardening projects are a good way of encouraging learning, as they give children hands-on experience of the natural world. They’re also a great team-building exercise, so it’s worth asking teachers, parents, or even PTA members to chip in with ideas that will benefit everyone.
- A more difficult yet rewarding task is to improve waterways and improve the health of your watershed. To improve the campus’ efficient stormwater management plan, start by carrying away rubbish, creating rain gardens, and picking up litter from school property. If you have a rainy season, then encouraging students to collect excess water from areas on campus by building rain gardens will also be beneficial for improving sustainability efforts.
Communicating with your community is an important part of creating a cohesive learning environment. Here are ways you can do just that. The list above isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but it should provide you with some ideas on how you can connect to students, parents, and the overall community.