Thanks to our guest blogger, Taylor Lassiter. Last Monday we shared Taylor’s post on Connecting With Parents at Church. Today Taylor gives us ideas on connecting with parents outside of church (with a few suggestions for a successful parent night). Taylor, his wife, Meredith, and their three sons serve the Lord in Northern Texas.
If you are making a strategic effort to connect with parents at club, it has to be supplemented by communication outside of club. Don’t forget how important these steps are!
Invite Parents to an Orientation Night: Early in the club year, it is essential that your club have a parent orientation night. This is best done on the first or second week of club, or possibly in January when your club is gearing back up for the spring semester. Many clubs have tried some sort of parent night, but struggled to make it successful. Here are some tips:
- Eliminate Distractions. If your pastor is holding a Bible Study at the same time, parents will be torn, and you will not connect with many of them. Work with your church staff to ensure that parents can come to this night without feeling like they are “missing” something else in the church.
- A Taste of Club Night. Give parents a taste of club night by having them participate. Have parents go through check-in, just like normal club to let them learn how the process works. Have fun games for parents to play with their children—don’t let them just sit and watch! Have a Large Group message geared for both parents and their children. During Handbook Time, break into specific clubs and show parents what their child’s handbook looks like, and explain to parents how to work with their child in their book. And make sure to have a winning team for the night!
- Give Expectations. Many parents simply don’t know they are supposed to help their child in their handbooks—they think it is the leaders job! Some just think they are doing their part by bringing them to club. Communicate a high expectation from parents and that they are primarily responsible for their child’s spiritual development.
- Food. It’s a sure-fire way to keep parents. Maybe you have a hot dog cook-off or ice cream social, but whatever you do, make sure there are lots of great things for parents and children to enjoy!
Utilize Social Media. Let parents know if your church has a Twitter account, blog or Facebook Page. Let them see what is going on in the rest of the church. If you haven’t already, create a Facebook Page or Group just for your Awana Club, and invite parents to participate. It’s a great way to supplement your announcements and share highlights from the night. Always make sure you have any necessary release forms before posting any child’s pictures online, but if you can, it is a great way to show parents what is happening on club night.
E-mail Communication. You should be receiving parents e-mails when they register their children for club. A bi-weekly e-mail with club announcements, pictures, and other fun is great to have. You can use Sparkles, Parent Pause, and KidsPrint as templates for your newsletters. (You can find these at awana.org and can also sign up for email notification. They come out the last week of the month in time for you to add your own personal club news before the first club meeting of the month.
One of the most important things you can do in an e-mail communication is let parents know where their child should be in their book to be “on pace” to finish by the end of the year. Something as simple as “If your child is in T&T Ultimate Challenge, they should be on Challenge 4:2 this week!” can help parents keep progress of where their child should be. PowerUP! is a great tool to help your clubbers stay on pace!
Give Parents Tools. Many parents don’t know the tools available to them to help their child, and would really appreciate if your club shared those with them. Do they know about the Parent Handbooks and how they work (Parent Orientation Night is a great time to share these!). How about Awana at Home resources? PowerUP! to stay on pace? Do they know the verses from the handbooks are available for purchase on iTunes or the Awana Catalog? Give parents tools if you want them to succeed!
Prayer. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Are you praying consistently for the kids in your club? Are you praying for their parents? If you know the parents are not saved, are you praying and seeking an opportunity to share the gospel with these parents? Be on the spiritual offensive!
What have you done to effectively connect with parents? We’d love to hear your ideas!