Kindergarten Playdate

A Kindergarten Playdate is an event hosted at school during the spring or summer that brings families together to meet each other and learn about their new school and community.

Starting school is a huge milestone event for both a child and their parents. It's a learning opportunity, both in the classroom and outside, and a chance to try new things and build new experiences and behaviours.

Whether you're piggybacking on an existing event or starting one up, a Kindergarten Playdate is a great opportunity to tell new parents how your school community travels, provide information about best routes to schools and opportunities for active travel, connect families who can walk together or carpool, and share advice and experiences.
Kindergarten Playdates can be organized by a school, its parents or PAC, or a combination of both. They’re a good idea for school communities of all kinds, helping new families feel welcomed by and learn about the community they’re joining.

Beyond new parents, it’s a good idea to invite members or the executive of the PAC, the principal, and Kindergarten teachers to the event.
The first step is reaching out to new and prospective members of your school community. The school or District should have contact information for all families registered for Kindergarten. If they’re involved, it’s simply a matter of crafting the invitation and sending it out.

If parents are organizing the Playdate without the involvement or participation of the school, privacy considerations can make it challenging to reach out to new families. A few options include:

  • posting or passing around sign-up sheets at Kindergarten orientation to collect names, email addresses, and phone numbers;
  • sending invitations and announcements out through the school and/or PAC newsletter, website and social media; and
  • posting notices at the school.
During the event, just let the kids play. This creates space for families to mingle and talk. Provide supervision or set up activities to help facilitate this if needed.

A welcome and introduction can help set the tone, but avoid lengthy speeches or presentations. Recruit other parents to attend and help connect families who may live in or be travelling from the same area, find their walking routes or talk about travel logistics, etc. Resources like maps can be effective take-aways that can be referenced at a later date.
The summer before school starts is the best time to host a Kindergarten Playdate. If hosted at the start of the summer, families have a chance to reconnect independently during the summer, but you may miss families that registered late. If hosted towards the end of the summer, the event can help with the transition to school.
Optimally, a Kindergarten Playdate is held at the school so that children get used to the building and playground. This requires coordination with the administration, to ensure access to the school for set-up and the event, and to ensure bathrooms and other facilities are accessible.

If the school isn’t available, a nearby park, Rec centre, or other community gathering place works well.

Roles of volunteers

Recruit walking or cycling parents to help new parents plan their active trips to school. They can provide advice and experience – but their most important role is setting a positive tone and a sense of what is possible within the school community.

Youth engagement

Older or leadership students can help supervise the children and facilitate activities while parents talk. They can also serve as examples and share their own experiences travelling to and from school.

Ensuring sustainability

Towards the end of the school year, look for Kindergarten parents who can help organize or facilitate a Playdate for the next incoming cohort. They’re in a great position to share their experiences and journeys with new families.

Budgeting

Printing materials and providing snacks and refreshments are likely to be the only costs a Kindergarten Playdate will incur. Ask your PAC for funding, or solicit donations from local businesses – they should be excited to make a connection with new members of your community.