Planning events for babies and toddlers
When you first start to plan an event you need to decide what type of event you want to organise and whether you’re going to hold it in the library or at another venue.
You need to be clear about the reason for holding the event. You may be concentrating your efforts on increasing library membership or the number of active library users under five; alternatively, you may be promoting the library as a family-friendly venue to a specific client group e.g. childminders. Whatever your aims, good planning and organisation should ensure that your event is a success.
Next decide on your target audience, in particular the age group of the children. Whilst it is important to ensure your sessions are as inclusive as possible, a Bookstart session aimed at babies 0-12 months may not be suitable for toddlers. Once children reach the upper age limit they should be encouraged to ‘move on’ to a session for the older age group.
Some libraries run sessions aimed at specific client groups, such as dads and their babies. In this case you will need to consider holding sessions at the weekend.
Tips for organising a successful event
Book a venue early taking into consideration:
- Distance to travel for families
- Accessibility i.e. on main bus/train route
- Family facilities i.e. toilets, baby changing
- Health and safety requirements – carry out a risk assessment
- Costs involved, including refreshments
- Plan dates and family-friendly timings i.e. avoid school run etc.
- Decide whether to have a drop-in event or take bookings. If you decide to take bookings remind families that events are very popular and if for some reason they are unable to attend to let you know so that their places can be offered to another family
- Get help from colleagues to plan and be involved in the day
- Organise adequate staffing for the number of children expected
- Carry out a risk assessment of the area where the event is to be held, ensuring it is accessible for all children, parents and carers
- Think about stock and displays to complement the event.
- Start marketing the event internally with colleagues ASAP, and as soon as you can get posters up advertising the date, venue and timings to families
- Circulate flyers both manually and electronically i.e. via council newsletters and websites and to steering group partners to actively promote
- Download resources from the Bookstart website e.g. posters, colouring activities, Rhymetime sheets and more!
- Speak to your press team to gain their interest and receive local publicity
- Inform your local partners of the date ASAP so they can book the date in their diaries
On the day
- Organise suitable refreshments i.e. fruit rather than biscuits
- Ensure all members of staff at the venue know that the event is taking place so that they can welcome and direct families
- Organise a safe area for buggies
- Take lots of photographs, remembering to ask parents and carers to complete a photograph permission form
- Don’t forget to evaluate the success of the event and ask families for their comments
- HAVE FUN!