We have children attend the 1.5 hour First Reconciliation retreat in Church with a parent.
In our case we are able to have this retreat in place of a regular Faith Formation class. This retreat happens after a parent meeting with parent catechesis on the Sacrament, and after invididual family meetings with a priest so the children meet a priest before the Sacrament ever happens, and after parents have completed a workbook with their child.
Our First Reconciliation retreat starts with a guided meditation where we picture Jesus smiling and forgoving us etc. After that there is a cute skit about the Good Shepherd looking for his lost lambie in the pews. Then we run through what happens at First Reconciliation and we run through an Examination of Conscience.
Then we give them a "pretend sin" to confess, and have them go into the confessional with a parent and a cheat sheet ,to role play confession with a catechistor other volunteer acting as the priest. We stress this is not real - ths is practice.
This accomplishes two goals. It helps the child get a good fear-free experience and gets the parent to step into a confessional (sometimes for the first time in years).
Then children who want to practice again without their parent may do so. Depending on the size of the group you will need lots of "confessionals" set up so there is not too much waiting. Some can be traditional confessionals, others can be the three-chari set-up that you use in non-traditional spaces. This way the child also gets to see both types.
We close with prayer, reminders and an appeal to parents to also celebrate the sacrament, to bring family, and to make this a happy celebration. After that they go for for refreshments and if time permits, they play First Reconciliation Bingo (everyone gets a prize).
Seems to work. We get lots of parents returning to the Sacrament, happy priests because the children are reasonably well prepared, and fewer children with negative attitudes.
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