“Be prepared”—the old scouting motto—is a good one. The more adequately we prepare for something, the better we are able to thrive and adapt if necessary. This is especially true as we anticipate the coming Sunday school year in our churches. Therefore, it’s important to start off the year by clearly communicating to parents and children what the year will entail—especially highlighting any changes that may be in store due to current events. Here are three main categories of information to communicate…
- a glorious vision for pursuing the comprehensive discipleship of children.
- the importance of a robust church and parent partnership.
- information regarding the “nuts and bolts” of the upcoming year.
While best done by hosting a type of formal “Parent Orientation” meeting and/or a “Parent-Student Open House” in classrooms before the school year begins, other forms of communication can be used, including emails, monthly newsletters, web meetings, etc. The following are some helpful ideas and resources.
Communicate a glorious vision for pursuing the comprehensive discipleship of children to parents.
- Share the four-part video series “Foundations for Ministry” with parents.
- Ask your senior pastor and/or other ministry leaders to address parents and herald the vision and mission for the coming year.
- Share the “Developing a Vision-Orientation of Ministry to Children and Youth” document with parents.
- Briefly explain how your scope and sequence and curricula align with the vision and mission. If you are using Truth78 curricula, this link may prove helpful for parents.
Communicate the importance of a robust church and parent partnership.
- Clearly articulate both the distinct and shared roles and expectations of church and home in the discipleship of children. (See “Partnering with Parents” and “Partnering with Your Church” for a more in-depth explanation and practical tips.)
- Highlight the appropriate safety measures in place to guard children both physically and emotionally (i.e., background checks on all volunteers, behavioral and discipline policies, cleaning protocols in the classroom, etc.).
- Extend an “open invitation policy” for parents to visit their child’s classroom. (See “Involving Parents in the Classroom.”)
- Provide parents with all relevant contact information and/or procedures for addressing questions and concerns.
- Encourage ministry volunteers to connect with the parents of the children they will serve.
Communicate information regarding the “nuts and bolts” of the upcoming year.
- Share with parents an overview of the curricula their child will be learning (i.e., send them a copy of the scope and sequence available with each Truth78 curricula, such as this sample).
- Provide an overview of a typical class session (e.g., worship in song, Bible lesson, small group discussion, prayer, activity, dismissal).
- Introduce the teachers and other volunteers who will be serving in the classroom.
- Have parents (or guardians) register each child in order to ensure that volunteers have all the information they need for the well-being of the child and a means of readily contacting parents.
- Clearly explain expectations: bringing Bibles (including which translation), bathroom breaks, check-in and dismissal policies, behavioral guidelines, and whether they should plan to wear a mask, etc. Consider sharing with parents, “Preparing Your Child’s Heart for Sunday School.”
- Welcome questions, feedback, and concerns. Make sure to emphasize that you are there to assist parents in the discipleship of their children.
Special Considerations for “Remote” Sunday School
Some churches have made the difficult choice to NOT start in-person classes this coming fall. Rather, they are planning to offer Sunday school lessons recorded and made available through various digital means. If this is the case, many of these same considerations still apply in principle. Here are a few specific ways to prepare parents and students.
- Make sure families have the means necessary to readily access the lessons in the digital format provided.
- Suggest tips for structuring the lesson time (e.g., a parent sitting with the child, removing distractions from the room where they are watching, setting a regular time for the lesson, etc.).
- Provide student notebooks/workbooks/journals and take home pages to assist students and parents in maximizing biblical instruction and spiritual formation.
In conclusion, it’s going to be an interesting year. Personally, I am getting SO excited to have the privilege and joy of teaching again. Based on 30+ years of experience, I know that preparing parents and students for the coming year is well worth the investment of time and energy.