5 Alternatives to an Event Booth

These are smarter, more targeted ideas to consider.

Her presentation about her school is way more compelling than the story time she's interrupting.

Schools having booths at events is not a favorite recruitment tactic of mine. As such, I've compiled a list of alternative ideas for interacting with the public and promoting your school in-person.

1. Public Library Story Time Guest Speaker. Determine which library(ies) to target based on a realistic geographic boundary. Call the person overseeing story time (or a different activity) and ask if a representative from your school could speak about your school/upcoming open house for under five minutes at the very beginning or end of the story time. Keep the talk professional but informal. If possible, try to hang out afterward in case anyone has questions or would like to take home a brochure you are offering.

Tip: This was a success for us. The library was very accommodating and we reached out to a lot of families. I don’t think they would’ve allowed us to do this every week (understandable), so be strategic in choosing when you ask (i.e., not right before Christmas or during summer vacation).

2. Public Library Story Time Outreach, Before and After. A variation of #1, this option is less appealing (no captive audience!) but needs no permission from the library. Libraries usually have free speech zones near their entrances. Your school can set up a table within this area and speak with families going to/from story times. Call ahead of time to confirm existence and location of free speech zone and any related rules.

Tip: This was a success for us, too. We determined which story times would be most appropriate for us and our principal set up a table with brochures and coloring books and spoke with families exiting after story time. Families seemed less rushed and more interested in talking with us after, rather than before, story time. We also spoke with non-story time families, as well.

3. Park Outreach. You can also set up a table at a park or recreation facility at a time when you know your targeted demographic will be there. Perhaps there is a nearby park with recreation classes (sports, swim, dance, etc.) geared towards your demographic. In my experience parks have free speech zones just like libraries so you could set up a table and connect with families. Of course call your local parks department and verify.

4. Parent Group Outreach. Most every area has moms’ groups, MOPS and meetups. Contact them about possibly speaking to their membership about your school. Perhaps before a general meeting or gathering would work. It may be necessary to contribute a small donation or sponsor the meeting snacks in exchange for the opportunity. If possible, rely on your new parents who have participated in these groups recently to make the inquiry.

5. Guest Speaker Event. If you feel like taking on a bit more work, you could offer a speaker from your school/District (such as your principal, preschool teacher or district early childhood expert) who could present on a relevant topic (typical milestones, preparing for reading, socialization tips, etc.) to the parent gathering.

Let me know if you try one of these options. And if you come up with your own idea to interact with the public to promote your school, please advise!