Took me a couple of reads to actually like this story from England about the joys and perils of connecting with the PTO or PTA at your school.

My first reaction was to criticize the stereotypical portrayal that parent group volunteering means getting caught up in playground politics and cliques. (I actually wrote a column for our sister site -- -- on how PTOs can avoid cliquedom) Also was disappointed that the representative from the British national PTA seems to say that "all PTAs are cliques and if you don't like it, find something else."
"Of course there's going to be the idea that the PTA is a bit cliquey. It's never intended but it almost always is."

Ugh. It's not inevitable. It's certainly an issue, but in my experience a lot of parents also go in expecting a problem and then use the first negative experience as an excuse to turn away.

But on the whole, I really liked the overall message, which is:
"Whether you're batch-baking cakes or just buying a raffle ticket, the golden rule to stress-free PTA involvement seems to be do what you can and forget the guilt."

That really hits it. If the PTO or PTA volunteering is for you -- great. If not, find another way to connect. The positive results ofgetting involvedare just too great to ignore. We've also got good ideas on how you can get involed on your own terms.