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Lunch Club - Getting Kids To Attend


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At the moment we run an 'optional' lunch club, charged at about the same hourly rate as the sessions. The normal session runs 9.30-12.00 then lunch club 12.00-1.00 (we only open mornings, voluntary run setting in a village hall).

 

The uptake for the lunch club is quite poor. I want (need!) to use it for my own daughter 5 days a week, but unless there are 3 or more children it just doesn't happen. This means it tends to go ahead later in the year but only on certain days when the demand is there.

 

I had the idea that we need to make it more of an appealing option for parents. At the moment it is billed as a 'social' time with a bit of play/story after eating, but I wondered if it would be more attractive if we did a different activity each day, e.g. 'mucky Mondays' they could do paints and sticking, and so on with a different theme for each day.

 

Does anyone have any other bright ideas? We have a meeting tomorrow and I am going to try and push the committee to get the lunch club going properly.

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Hi Suzie

 

In my previous setting, we worked out that we needed 7 children to cover the cost of staffing only or 35 children over a week.

 

Lunch club intially started for 3 days a week on this basis and soon grew to 5 days a week where it has remained. It is very popular, the only reason I can think of is that we live in a reasonably well off village.

 

Providing extra activities might be difficult. In my experience some children can take nearly the whole hour to eat their lunch, lots of interaction going on! Others would choose a quiet activity for some much needed downtime and rest which is obviously a key element of child development too.

 

I sympathise so I hope this does not come across as negative.

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We are in the same position as you - last summer I was beating children off with a stick for lunch club and this year only had 6 at the most on any one lunch club - the costs killed me, but didn't want to stop the lunch club, so took a loss. Sometimes it just depends on parent/child friendships as to who stays, or wants to stay.

 

Also I think finances are hitting the spot at the moment, after all it is a bit of a luxury for some families - most of ours are paying nothing else to attend as they do their 12.5 hrs and get that free.

 

Your idea of different activities could be the spark you need, but you definitely need the whining power of the children - so it has to be something that the children wouldn't normally get to do, but see their friends who are attending are doing, which in turns makes them want to stay for lunch too.

Edited by Panders
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In our area the parents can use their funding for lunch club as well as the 'normal 'session so we don't have any trouble with numbers. To be honest, many of our parents want their children to attend as many hours as we are open. Even some of the new 2 1/2 year olds starting next week are going to stay for lunch straightaway.

 

If you're committed to this, you just have to go ahead, take the loss to start off with, I'm sure children will start asking to stay when they see some of their friends staying and they wonder why they have to go home early.....

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We struggled to have enough children for lunch club one day a week for two years - this year we are running back to back 2.5 hour sessions with the second session incorporating a lunch slot. Because it is now "free" the take up has already been much better.

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Many thanks for the replies.

 

This year parents can use their NEG hours to include lunch club, so I need to explain to those who only do 2 or 3 days a week will realise it is 'free' and worth coming to!

 

I agree that sometimes it's worth taking the loss.

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How about trying a 'lunch club promotion' to get some interest....last year I did an offer where if the parents paid for one full lunch club they could have another one for half price.

 

This worked quite well and once the children went home and told their parents they enjoyed lunch club we had them coming back for more.....at full price :o its worth a try!

 

We took lots of photos of lunch club and made a display in the cloakroom. I will probably do this again next term if numbers for lunch club fall and make it a 'loose topic' about healthy eating etc.

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