As you say goodbye to your students and watch them walk down the hall, hand in hand with their parents, do you ever wonder: Are they discussing the Bible with their kids? Are the lessons I am teaching being reinforced at home? Am I engaging my students’ parents enough?
As a parent, I myself also consistently wonder if I am doing enough at home to make sure I am encouraging my son in his faith and keeping the passion and hard work of his Sunday School teachers going for the remainder of the week. So how can we bridge these two paths of thought wondering if what we are doing is enough?
Engaging parents with Sunday School not only helps parents and children grow together in their faith, it also gives you, as a teacher, a better chance of instilling your knowledge of Jesus to your students. So where do you start?
Listen to the Parents
First, listen! Not all parents like to receive information in the same way, and not all parents want to receive the same type of information. Listening is not only one of the best tools for teaching students but it’s also the best way to know what your students’ parents need. Ask questions such as the following:
- How often do you pray with your child(ren) at home?
- Do you need any resources to help praying with you kids at home?
- What is one thing you would like to receive in regards to your child’s Sunday school?
- How would you prefer to receive communication?
These questions will give you a better understanding of your parents’ and students’ needs.
One method to ask these questions is to send a short survey. Try using SurveyMonkey, Typeform or Google Docs. This is an easy way to get the information you are looking for and analyze the data quickly. You can also try holding a brief meeting with parents. This is an effective way for you to listen and for parents to interact with one another. And, of course, just ask! Ask these questions as parents are dropping off or picking up their kids, send an email, or text them. No matter which approach you use, the most important thing is that they know that you are listening and want to help.
Communicate with Your Class
Second, communicate. Communication is imperative to connect parents with Sunday School. It shows that you listened to their needs and want to keep them involved in their child’s learning. So how can you communicate with them? One way is to create a social media page specifically for your class or school. We know people are on social media more and more, so why not meet parents where they already are? Social media pages are easy to create and keep updated—post pictures taken during class (if you’ve received permission!), articles or blogs of interest, even upcoming lesson plans. It’s also a platform for parents to ask questions and stay connected to one another. Email is another simple way to communicate with parents. Try sending weekly or monthly emails to keep parents updated.
Prepare Parents to be Engaged
Third, make sure parents are prepared. Parents may want to study the Bible verses ahead of time so they can confidently have conversations with their children. Some may feel intimidated by the task of teaching their children the faith throughout the week. Help parents feel more at ease by giving them information on what their children will be learning in your class ahead of time. This can be as simple as sending an email or text with the lesson content for the week, printing out an overview page and sending it home with your students, or posting it weekly on your social media page. Giving parents the information ahead of time is a simple way to keep them informed and engaged in their children’s faith learning.
Participation in Class
Last, have your parents participate in Sunday School. Host a parents’ day . One day a year or quarter, invite parents to join their children at Sunday School. This can give parents insight about how and what you teach, as well as how their children participate and react in class. Another fun way to have parents participate in Sunday School is to plan a family field trip. This could be as simple as an outdoor event during Sunday School or as big as an afternoon outing! Try incorporating the entire church so parents with multiple ages of children can join with their whole family. This could look like going to a park nearby or taking a trip to your local zoo (great for teaching creation or Noah’s ark!), museum, or other family-friendly destination. Not only is this fun for students and their families but it’s also a great way to show how to incorporate faith talk everywhere we go! Having parents assist during a lesson can motivate them to take a more active role in their child’s faith, or give them ideas on ways to integrate faith learning at home.
Engaging parents with Sunday School shouldn’t be tough or scary—think of what engages and motivates you. You’ll find when parents are more involved with their children’s faith learning it can make your job easier too!
Looking for more tips and tricks to engage parents in Sunday School?