In any good relationship or work environment, communication is key! When a child is in school, there are usually at least two parent/teacher conferences held yearly, not to mention monthly PTA meetings, weekly school news letters, and a host of other things to communicate with parents. Why do schools push so hard to keep parents informed about school happenings and about student progress? The answer is simple. Schools know that if a parent is invested in their child’s education, the child is much more likely to experience success in school.
Let’s apply this to our situation as Bible class teachers. Do parents of our students know what material we are studying this quarter? Do they know what memory work will be expected for their child? Do they get updates on the progress that their child is making? I think we are missing a key component in a child’s Bible education if we leave parents in the dark about what goes on in the Bible class. We need parental support and cooperation if we want a child to master all that they need to learn. It is nearly impossible for a child to learn all the memory work in a class if they aren’t practicing at home.
So what are some methods that we can use to communicate with our parents? Here are a few suggestions.
- At the beginning of a new year when classes have been promoted, send a letter or an email to each family with a child that attends Bible class as well as those who have not been attending. Introduce yourself as being the teacher for this class. Discuss things you want to accomplish. Let them know of any outside activities that you are planning. Ask for cooperation in working with their child at home on memory work.
- Create an e-mail list of Bible class parents. E-mail everyone on the list early in the week to remind them of the memory verse for the upcoming class and any other memory skills to work on at home. We may have the memory verse written down on paper to send home, but we all know that kids aren’t the most reliable about taking papers from class to their parents. Direct communication with the parent is much more effective.
- In one congregation where I attended, we added a page on our church website for parents to go where they could “Meet the Teachers”. There was a picture and short bio for each. On that page you could also find out what lesson would be studied for the week ahead and memory work expected in each grade. Interestingly, that page of our website had more traffic than any other section. A lot of that was from parents who would check out things that their child needed to work on for the upcoming class.
- Make it a point to brag on a child’s progress in person with the parent and preferably in front of the child. We always say that we should be careful about being critical in front of a child, but we can use it in reverse. Here is an example of what I’m talking about: I had a child in my class who came to church with her grandmother. This child had no encouragement to do anything from her parents, but her grandmother brought her to Bible class consistently and helped her with memory work. One Sunday when the child had quoted her books of the Bible, I made a point to go to the grandmother (in ear shot of the child) to tell her how proud I was of her grandchild’s accomplishment. I also expressed how much I appreciated the efforts of the grandmother in helping her. By doing this, I created a win-win situation. The child was proud of her accomplishment and happy to have pleased her Grandmother and me. Grandmother is proud of the child and encouraged to keep on working with her. And you’ve made two friends for life who think you’re the greatest teacher that ever came along!
- Student progress reports are another way to communicate with parents. In my previous congregation, progress reports were created to show attendance for the quarter, the number of memory verses quoted, and any other memory work that had been mastered. The teacher would fill out the progress report quarterly, send it to the church office, and two copies were made. One would be sent to parents and one filed in the office. Parents loved it! It was also a great tool to keep up with student achievement for teachers in future classes when students were promoted. The new teacher would have baseline information on each student to know who knows what information. To borrow and adapt another school term, we want “No Bible Class Student Left Behind!
In Genesis 11, the people who were building the tower of Babel had a wrong purpose. However the text says in verse 6 that when the people were communicating with one another “nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” It took Divine intervention to stop their work. By communicating and working with parents, we can do great things for our children in Bible class!