Avoiding Common Pitfalls
There are certain aspects of participating in an after-hours program at a school or child care center that come to be expected by families. Families may avoid after hours events for many different reasons. The key to planning popular events that are enjoyed and attended by families is to avoid common pitfalls.
Often the focus of an after-hours activity is to coordinate financial gain for the child care program. Whether it is a fundraiser event for an upcoming field trip or equipment is unimportant. Families are often happy to help with donations if they are able to, but may come to resent a program if this is asked of them repeatedly. If an admission price is charged for events, this may deter families from participating. Likewise, if the aim of the event is to solicit funds it is safe to expect a low turnout. The general assumption is that the families pay a monthly tuition amount that should cover all of the necessities, therefore they shouldn’t be expected to pay more.
Another reason that after-hours programs can fail is due to scheduling conflicts. Families are busy with work, sports, down time and family events. If a parent or guardian is expected to take time off work to attend an event or program, it creates a hardship and unnecessary stress. When planning events it is best to take family schedules into consideration. A simple parent questionnaire will suffice, or a casual conversation. Another factor to keep in mind is the length of notice that families are given. Sending a flyer home one week prior to an event is not enough notice. Give families several weeks of notice to procure the best turnout.
Arguably the biggest common pitfall of planning after-hours family programs comes down to the event itself. If it is boring, too long or too complicated, families will not make the extra effort to attend. Be sure to plan events that pique the children’s interest and give the families the motivation to participate as well. Often if the child is interested in going, the parents will be as well. It may take practice or communication with the families of the children in your care to discover the perfect mix of activities for your event. The time needed to research this is well worth it if it produces a healthy bond between the center and families.