The purpose of the Family Programme is to provide a hands-on activity stream (particularly suited to 3-12 year olds), and a 'chill-out' space so that the younger members of the convention can have space to act their age. It is not child-minding, and children are expected to have a parent or designated guardian in the room with them at all times.
Other members of the convention are welcome to come and join the activities or just have a chat.
Ideally there should be two 'areas' to the family programme space. One portion of the space should be suitable for crafting, the other suitable for sitting and reading. Ideally there should be easy access to a toilet (and potentially a bath in case of accidents!) and a single exit. It is best positioned somewhere in the main flow of programming to make handover of kids as quick as possible, and to allow it to feel part of the con.
- Change table/mat
There should be a copy of the Family Room programme at the door. There should also be a copy of the full programme at the sign in table.
Currently, the equipment available for the family programme includes: a small purple wheelie bin of picture books; a small green wheelie bin full of chapter books (to suit about 9-15 year olds); a translucent box of craft materials (only to be accessed by adults); and a black box containing mostly organisational stuff (running folders for each day, family programme tags, also "boring" craft stuff—paper, sticky tape, glue (and extra coloured pencils... People keep donating them, and we still haven't actually opened all the packets we originally got!)
People running programme items are not expected to look after the children in the room, merely provide an activity to distract them. In general, programme items should run for about half an hour only (some high interest items, like Plush Toy Wars, may run for an hour). Over an Easter convention, programming will begin on Friday morning. It will run from the opening of programming each day until the dinner break, with a break at lunchtime. On Friday, items are best scheduled for half an hour out of every hour (based on the number of attendees), and Sunday, programming does not really need to begin before lunchtime. Monday, no programming (or minimal... Maybe videos) is necessary, but the space and some chill out materials are essential, as all the kids are really tired and may need space!
Ideally, all Guests will be invited to participate in a Family Programme item (Guests whose work is not kid-friendly might like to do a reading from/talk about one of their childhood favourites, or discuss their process). Regular favourite items are the Fan Art panels (where an artist comes in and draws with everyone... Several of these are possible over the course of a con), chocolate games (Kit-Kat Jenga, chocolate Checkers, chocolate Ker-Plunk!), food related activities (icing biscuits to look like aliens/food art, for example) and readings.
Physical activities are great to include where possible.
A Children's Masquerade could run on the Saturday afternoon, preceded by costume related activities (face-painting, mask making). A photographer might be invited. Before beginning to lay out your programme specifics, be sure to find out when main programming will begin each day, and when the lunch and dinner breaks will be—and be sure to double check this occasionally to be sure they haven't been changed! It is important that Family Programme items are listed in the programme booklet alongside the main programme, and also that they are entered in Livecon.
Responsibility for children
Family Programme tags