The Learning Diaries | Engaging with families

Top tips for engaging with families...

As an organisation we’ve had a long history of championing family audiences and supporting organisations to develop high quality family provision. I’ve recently supported a castle to develop an approach to creating family resources which promotes both wellbeing and learning outcomes. We used both the New Economic Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing and Inspiring Learning for All’s Generic Learning Outcomes frameworks. We carried out plenty of desk research and developed case studies looking at inspirational examples, then did some action research with families to explore ideas at the castle in more depth.

I think we’re really proud to deliver genuinely accessible, open and engaging consultation and research opportunities, providing an environment that is comfortable for participants – whatever their background or prior experience of the cultural sector.

Over the years through rigorous research and trialling some innovative approaches we’ve gathered key insights into how to engage families. Every time we talk talk to parents, grandparents and carers the same key issues are highlighted and the more I find the ‘classic tips’ on how to engage families really hold true.

So if you’re on a really tight budget or time pressed, here are my 10 tips on how to successfully engage family audiences:

  1. Offer interactive experiences that as a minimum keep children engaged, and where possible encourage the parents to take part as well.
  2. Provide a suggested age range in all communications.
  3. Offer something for different age ranges where possible – families often have children of different ages and anything you can offer to engage the whole family is really appreciated.
  4. Use images that illustrate what families will get out of your offer.
  5. Give details of facilities you have available and practical tips for family visiting, eg ‘if you have a pushchair it’s easier to use the side entrance’.
  6. Make sure your staff are confident and actively keen to welcome and support families on a visit.
  7. Provide parents with information and prompts to engage children with your programme and answer all their questions.
  8. Be upfront with families, especially when it comes to costs. Tell them all the costs they are likely to incur while on a visit, ahead of them coming along.
  9. Family days out can be very expensive so make sure to offer ways in which families could save money, eg offer a picnic area.
  10. Always gather feedback from your family audiences – they’re your best advisors!

To find out even more and get in depth insight into how to engage family audiences, watch the webcast we developed in partnership with the Family Arts Campaign.