We recently had a question from a member of our Facebook community asking about setting up a P & C booth at school open days. This is a great way to connect with new members of the school community and there was a lot of discussion about ways to make new families feel welcome.
These ideas are relevant to both Open/ Orientation Days as well as the ‘First Day’.
There are many and varied reasons that parents will choose your school, kindergarten or club. But as a parent association you need to bear in mind that one of these reasons could potentially be their first impressions of your community. Your association, and the way you present yourself, is of course the visible representatives and can influence perceptions greatly.
No matter what form your open day takes, your committee should most definitely have a presence there. It would appear that there are a lot of parent associations that are taking advantage of this opportunity.
From written information packs to ‘meet and greet’ sessions, take every chance you get to spruik the pro’s of getting involved. This will improve your chances of expanding your volunteer army. New families are often keen to get involved but don’t want to feel pressured into volunteering, so above all else, be welcoming and understanding.
Give your visitors the low down on recent projects that you’ve raised money for and any future projects that will benefit their kids. Offer simple ways for them to be involved without feeling like they’re making a lifetime commitment. If your parent association runs the uniform shop, tuckshop or even the swimming club, have information about all the available: uniform shop opening hours, tuckshop days (and a menu!), swimming club season dates, costs for joining and list any volunteering opportunities. If you’re super organised and already have your fundraising plan for the coming year, this could also be the perfect time to include the ‘just one thing’ letter and don’t forget a membership form!
Other ideas were:
- Give some background about your school (or club etc – you know what I mean!). Check out our ‘Dummies Guide‘ tip from a little while ago. There is often a lot of ‘presumed knowledge’, and it’s good to get back to basics. A good start to this is asking first year families what they wish they had known when they started….
- Giving a summary of why the school has a parent group and your aims/goals.
- Information about how parents can stay up-to-date with activities – newsletters, facebook page, emails.
- Supplying contact details for key committee members.
- Including details of upcoming events.
- Including an invitation to your official school welcome morning tea/BBQ.
- Having the school principal introduce parent association members and the president making a short speech about what they do, ways to support them and regular events or activities.
- Having a photo board from past events and if possible, purchases that the P & C has contributed to.
- Including a tea bag and a kit kat in your welcome pack to encourage parents to stop and have a break while they read through the information you’ve given them.
You can see the whole Facebook conversation here and if you click through to our website we’ve got a few suggestions of simple welcome gifts or memorable giveaway ideas for your next open day.
Make Pinterest your best friend! It is LOADED with cute and (best of all) easy to make ideas for ‘welcome’ gifts. These are some of our favourites:
If you’re putting a ‘show bag’ together for your open day, how about including a small bottle of bubble mixture with a tag attached saying ‘We’re BUBBLING with excitement for you to join our school’, or a pencil with a ‘You’re just “write” for our school’ tag attached or even a pack of microwave popcorn with a note saying ‘Thanks for POPPING in! See you on the first day of school’.
At your P & C stall on open day, have a big bowl of mints with a sign saying ‘Thank you for your commit-“mint”, Involve-“mint” and Encourage-“mint” in your child’s education. Here’s a little something for your Enjoy-“mint”.
You could also have a jar of ‘parent wishes’. Give parents a piece of paper for them to write down what their wish is for their child for the coming year and put it in the jar. This information could be invaluable not only for the P & C, but the for teachers and staff as well.
Be fun, be memorable and happy fundraising!