Over the years of teaching Sunday school, I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous comments and even some complaints from parents about their child’s classroom experience. Some of the complaints were very legitimate concerns identified by the parents that resulted in positive changes in the classroom. Others issues needed to be addressed primarily by the parents as they worked with their child on specific areas of their behavior. In my experience, one of the best ways to enhance the classroom experience for the children is to proactively clarify and understand expectations for teachers and classroom leaders, parents, and children.
For example, here are a few basic expectations for teachers and classroom leaders:
- Provide a safe, welcoming, structured, age-appropriate environment for the students.
- Provide well-prepared, theologically sound, faith-nurturing Bible lessons that are presented in an age-appropriate, interesting, and God-honoring manner.
- Design a class structure that is attentive to the needs of the children while emphasizing and maximizing spiritual instruction.
- Provide parents with written communication outlining class procedures and expectations, behavioral guidelines, contact information, curriculum notes, and other relevant information.
- Extend to parents an open invitation to sit in and observe the classroom when so desired.
- Recognize and affirm that parents bear the primary responsibility for nurturing their child’s faith. Teachers and other leaders will not seek to usurp that role.
- Be open to making changes when necessary for the benefit of the students.
- Speak directly to the parents when an issues arises with their child. Seek solutions that properly weigh the needs of the larger class and the specific child.
And here are a few expectations for parents:
- Carefully communicate to your child his or her responsibilities when in the classroom and proper behavioral guidelines.
- Pray for your child’s class.
- Have your child prepared for class. This includes being on time, having him or her fed, making sure your child has used the bathroom, having the proper Bible, etc.
- Show appropriate gratitude for the men and women who volunteer to minister to your child. Understanding that Sunday school is not a “right” but a gracious “privilege” for your child to enjoy.
- Help your child understand the meaning and importance what is being taught in the classroom. If you take a deep interest in what is being taught, your children are more likely to take a deep interest, too (Using the CDG GIFT pages for each of our curricula lessons is a great tool to do this.)
- Encourage your child to complete any assignments, memory work, and other action steps.
- When your child expresses a concern (“I’m bored.” “The kids pick on me.” etc.) first speak to the teacher or small group leader. Get their perspective. Also consider sitting in and observing the class.
- Understand the needs of the larger class, as well as the needs of your child. Don’t insist on unrealistic demands.
- Pick your child up on time.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, in my experience these all serve to proactively address areas that commonly may lead to a direct, negative impact on a student’s classroom experience. By working together—parents and classroom volunteers—can help every student better love and enjoy his or her time in Sunday school.