New families can join your school community at any time during the year, not just at the start. Here are some great ways to welcome new students and their parents and make them feel at home at their new school.
It seems obvious, but if you see a new face go and say hello immediately. Don’t wait ‘until next time’ or think ‘they’re too busy’ – even if it’s the simple act of stopping, saying ‘hello my name is X, I am Y’s mum/dad’. If everyone waits ‘until later’ to say hello, its likely no one will stop to say hello at all.
When a new child is starting mid-year, take a class photo with all the kids holding a small whiteboard or piece of paper with their name on it. This will make it easy for the new kid to learn everyone’s names. Print a copy for the new family to take home or project onto the white board in the morning.
Get kids to write welcoming messages on a large piece of butchers’ papers and leave on the new child’s desk.
Tour the School
Allocate a class family member to take the child/parents on a tour, or accompany the principal when they do it.
For the whole school
At the start of a new school year, welcome all the new families by hosting a Welcome Picnic or Breakfast before school. It doesn’t have to be too involved – send invites to new families and put posters up for the rest of the school. Set up a simple sausage sizzle or cake stall or ask everyone to BYO picnic. Set up a fun Photo Booth for the kids with silly props and hats. Ask the committee members to have a small stall with some flyers about joining the committee and upcoming P&C/PTO events.
Keep in touch
Send parents the class contact list (a list of parent names and emails, if you have one) along with a brief outline of what’s been happening in class and anything that’s coming up in next fortnight.
Don’t forget to tell new families about big-picture or cultural aspects of the school:
- where do kids play after school
- are parents encouraged to stay in class before school
- are there school Facebook groups they can join, or local community FB groups
- are parents welcomed at assembly
- where to park
- what are the different ways parents can volunteer or help throughout the year
- upcoming school events
- faction carnivals
- traditions which might not be immediately clear – such as end of term ‘crazy hair day’ or ‘free dress day’
- where are the notice boards
- which bathrooms can parents use
- how to order from the school canteen
Get the P&C to send a welcome email to new families – let them know they are welcome to attend meetings, when and where they are held and how to join. Joining a committee can be a great way of meeting other people, especially in other year groups.
Let everyone know
Often parents don’t actually realise there is a new family, especially if they’re not at school much or their child doesn’t mention it. Send an email to the class letting everyone know there is a new family and to welcome them.
Obviously you can’t enforce this, but inviting the new child to the next upcoming birthday party is a great way for them to feel welcome.
Organise a after school play for the whole class or year group.
What other ways can you welcome a new family?