As we continue our discussion on communicating with parents, there are a few things I have found to be helpful as you get ready to kick off the new school.
1. The Back to School Letter...
If you yourself have any kids attending school, you know that at some point, you will get a letter from the school. This letter serves a number of purposes, but usually, (at least in our experience) the letter reveals important information such as, teacher name, room assignment, class schedule, and perhaps a school material shopping list. Sometimes, we've even received a card or note from a teacher with some kind words of encouragement and a teaser for what the new school year might hold.
I love the idea of these letters because there give you simple, yet important details that your kid might need to know for that first day of school. The idea isn't just great for school, but transferable for your ministry. For a number of years, and I will type one up again this year, I have send a short letter of welcome and reminder to the parents of our students with a simple list of important information they will need to know for our first night back as a student ministry. I try to be careful not to ramble on about all the in's and out's of the ministry. Instead, I focus on the important things such as start times and end times. where to drop off and where to pick, meeting dates, maybe the first month calendar, a link to our website, Facebook, and other social media outlets, and an attached flier for our kick-off event.
2. The Student Ministry Calendar...
Now this one might be a little tricky, depending on how you plan in advance. But I have always thought it helpful to give my parents as much advanced notice as possible, especially in the area of the ministry calendar. Whether it's 1 kid or 5 kids, most families work around a school year schedule. It might include school sports, club sports, music lessons, community groups, etc. Not to mention the schedule of the parents themselves. So to help keep students and parents plugged in, I have always published a calendar for the school year.
Now some years I did it quarterly, presenting a three month calendar. Other years I worked a six month calendar. And there have been years where I posted a full 12 month calendar. It doesn't matter whether it's three month, six month or 12 months, what's important is that you're giving parents an advanced look at what the ministry is planning. The sooner parents know what you and your team are thinking, the easier it is for parents to know and support the ministry.
This is especially true for retreats, summer camps, mission trips, or other large group events. If the families know your dates in advance, they can better plan vacations and family time around what you are trying to accomplish. So get you calendar together, and get it inthe hands of yoru parents, ASAP!
3. Parent Volunteer List and Needs...
I think for most youth workers, we try to recruit help from adults who do not have students in the ministry. Sometimes parents make great youth worekrs, and sometimes having parents as leaders can be difficult for you and the student. But don't discount the value of having parents be part of your student ministry. Parents make great volunteers, and great cheerleaders.
In every student ministry there are jobs and tasks that need to happen that don't require one of your adult leaders. These jobs are great for parent volunteers. Whether it's helping out in the office making copies, folding papers, or even proof reading your printed materials, OR helping with events or activities as chaperones or additional staffing, parent volunteers are a great resource.
There is a benefit in having parents who invest their energies into the ministry. I'll talk more in detail about these benefits, but for now just think about what or how parents might be able to supoort your ministry programming.
Remember, you want parents on your side, being proactive in communicated a few important and advance notices will go a long way. We'll talk more about our minsitry to parents tomorrow. In the meantime, we'd love to hear from you! Take a few minutes to share your thoughts and comments. What practical tips do you have for the back to school kick off that could help another youth worker? Post below in the comment section and be a part of the conversation.