So, what do you need to do to start a network? We have put together five tips to help you get started.
Take an active role
Find out whether there is one parent who has a list of names and contact details of all the other parents in your child’s class. If not, request a list from the school and nominate yourself to be the ‘class mum or dad’. If details are not readily available, you should be able to create a list by speaking to parents in the playground. Once you have a list in place, you can start contacting other parents to arrange gatherings and anything else that needs organising. Make sure that everyone who wants one has a copy of the list and remember that some parents may not want to have their details included, so always be mindful of everyone’s wishes.
Bearing in mind that your main connection with other parents is that you have children, playdates offer a great way to make connections. If there are particular parents you get along with, then you can suggest a playdate after school. This can happen either at a playground or at your home and gives you the chance to get to know that parent a little bit better. Always invite them in for a cuppa when they come to collect their child and ask different children round to get to know more parents. Of course, strictly speaking playdates are all about the children, so even if you don’t particularly get on with a parent but your children get on like a house on fire, then you should arrange a playdate regardless.
“My daughter loves going to her friends’ houses after school as much as she enjoys pals coming to our house. I always turn up to collect her at least 30 minutes early so that I can hang out with her friend’s parent(s) before we need to go home.”
Attend school events
Wherever there is a school there will always be events and activities happening on a regular basis. Try and make the time to attend as many of these events as possible, from sports days, school plays, school fairs, parents’ evenings and concerts. There will also be the opportunity to help with school trips. This is a great way to meet other parents in a relaxed environment (while keeping an eye on the children, of course). If your children are younger and not yet at school, the same applies with nursery, pre-school or other local, family-friendly community events. Keep an eye out for events in your local area, the more you go to the more faces you will start to recognise.
“I love to help at school events when I can. My son has just finished Reception and I have been on a trip to the theatre and helped a few afternoons of forest school. These trips were a lot of fun and a great way to meet my son’s classmates and other parents. I hope to do more in the future.”
Join the PTA
By volunteering to join the parent-teacher association you will not only get to know about the key issues happening at your child’s school, but will meet other parents too. These meetings will give you the chance to influence policies and procedures at your child’s school. PTAs are open to any parent who is interested, all you need to do is contact the school office to find out about how to get involved. However, if joining the PTA feels like too much of a commitment ask about other volunteering options to keep you in the loop.
Go for coffee
If you are raising children then a sit down, a coffee and maybe even a slice of cake is bound to be welcome. It may be straight after the school drop-off, or after a library session, but meeting for a coffee is a great way to socialise. Find a family-friendly venue if you have the children with you (or the closest café to the school) and get to know one another better. And when you feel that friendships are forming, you could go a step further and suggest meeting for a meal either at a restaurant or at someone’s house.
“We arranged a bi-monthly ‘curry club’ with two other couples with children in our son’s year at school. We take it in turns to host what is simply a glass or two of wine, a takeaway curry and a good chat.”
Meeting other parents goes hand in hand with helping your child make friends too. Check out our tips to help your child make friends at primary school
After school activities are a great way to meet other parents and occupy your child for an hour or two, freeing up time to catch up with friends. We have some helpful tips on how to get your child involved in after school activities here
Do you have any tips on how to meet other parents in your child’s class. Share them in the comments box below.