For the children
Reassure little ones on their first day by offering them a sweet treat. Hand out gingerbread men, shop bought or handmade (be sure to have the ingredients list available either way in case of allergies). Consult the school and parents to see if you need to take any dietary requirements into account to ensure no-one is left out.
Jodie Cox, PFA Chair, Wyborne Primary School, London (456 pupils) told us: We decided to hand out gingerbread men to our new reception classes on their first day at school. The intention was to help the children and their parents feel welcome, and to invite parents to attend our meetings and get involved with our PFA. I baked them myself and bought the cellophane food bags and ribbon from Amazon (for around £1.20 for 30 bags). We made the poem up and printed and laminated each one ourselves:
The Parents and Friends Association of Wyborne Primary welcomes you,
You'll find we help in lots you do,
We thought you'd like this little treat,
He's the first of many friends that you will meet!
So if your grown-ups want some new friends, too,
Tell them to join the PFA - we really are a friendly crew!
It's lots of fun, with many rewards,
And we buy the school the best stuff we can afford,
It doesn't take a lot of time,
But really helps the school funds climb,
Then, while they improve things at school for you,
They make new friends and have fun, too!'
For the adults
Tea and tissues
Hold a 'tea and tissues' coffee morning where new starters' parents can get to know each other and find out more about the school from the PTA. Serve tea, coffee and cakes and use this opportunity to address any concerns and share advice. Dropping a child off for the first time can be daunting, so don't feel you have to push the PTA too much. This event will be a gentle introduction to your organisation and the work you do and will make parents aware that you exist. Perhaps print some flyers for parents to take away, or let them know where they can find out more when they're not worrying about their little one flying the nest! You can provide sign-up sheets, but don't push people towards them.
Invite along all parents, not just new ones, as then experienced parents can give advice to and reassure new ones. The more comfortable they feel, the more likely they'll be to get involved further down the line.
As an alternative, or an addition for those parents which can't stay, hand out packs containing a teabag, some tissues, and a sweet treat for parents to take home after dropping their child off. Include a flyer with information about the PTA.
Top tip: Other titles we like for this event are 'Boo Hoo Breakfast', 'Tea and TLC' (tender loving care), or simply Meet, Greet and Treat (especially if you're serving pastries or cakes!)