Do you remember when you joined playgroup for the first time?
What were the things that made you feel welcomed?
People seek out to join a playgroup for numerous reasons and visiting a playgroup can be a daunting feeling for some – remember, this person is stepping out of their comfort zone in the hope of being welcomed, having fun and forming friendships for themselves and their child.
And it is our responsibility to ensure we do our absolute best to make new families feel welcomed.
So what can you do? Here are some suggestions you can do at your playgroup:
Firstly, get your group together and brief them that you are are looking for new members to join and let them know of any new members coming through.Remind everyone that making a new family’s first impression a really positive one is the goal, and that having new families join is a positive thing.
Create a welcoming letter with basic information about the playgroup and outlining expectations of them.
Enlist a “welcoming person”. This person can go around and introduce the new member, give them a tour of facilities, chat to them about sessions and hand them any basic information about the group.
Don’t give too much information on the first day. Just give them enough to get by, for example, a timetable and things to bring each week.
Wearing a name tag is a great way to make any new member feel welcomed and at ease with new faces
A warm hello. Seeing a smiling face and a friendly hello is something that will never be unnoticed.
Small thoughtful gestures are often the most appreciated – if you have a new mum come along, make her a coffee or tea; it someone has two children, offer to watch one so they can spend some time with their other child
Make time at the end of the session for a chat and to answer any questions
Say goodbye – make sure you tell them goodbye and that you will see them next time is a nice way to end their first day
Follow up with new families within the week, whether this is through a phone call or email.
Allow new families to attend for a few weeks before you ask them to become involved in the roster system. This will give them time to settle and become familiar with what is expected
It also might be worthwhile to roster a buddy who has done that task before on their first go so they can help them out and explain what is involved
After two months, touch base again with your new families, ask them how they are going or for any feedback.
Remember, example is the best teacher. If your playgroup has a caring and cooperative atmosphere, new members will quickly see the value and importance of this and happily join in!
Little things: Create a welcoming policy – this could vary from playgroup to playgroup, but listing your expectations for welcoming new members could be a wonderful idea to prompt current families to be conscious of anyone new and how to make them feel included.