PARENTING: the richest of blessings that God gives His people and possibly, the most difficult role we ever fulfill. Today’s parents have some unique challenges as they seek to instill a Biblical, Christ-like life-style in the hearts of their children. More parents than ever are juggling parenting and full time employment. More parents than ever before are single parents. More parents than ever before have not had consistent, Christian role models to guide them in their parenting. The mobility of our society means that more young parents than ever are “alone” in their child rearing– Grandma and Grandpa are too far away to provide much daily practical support. More parents than ever are moving away from even considering Christian education for a variety of reasons.
These (and other) reasons present some excellent opportunities for Christian schools! Christian schools are one of the most concrete ways for parents to get some of the support that is needed to successfully raise their kids in a difficult world. The partnership that has long existed between parents and churches AND Christian schools needs to be revived with vigor! However, 30 years ago churches used to regularly preach sermons about Christian education and the Christian school was for the most part an automatic choice for their children. That is no longer the case. Today’s Christian schools need to think outside the box to reach and welcome parents who have never considered Christian education but for whom the blessing would be life changing.
What does your school have to offer a parent of today that is so valuable to him/her? Are these things different today than they were 5 years ago? Different than 10 years ago? Different than 30 years ago?
Who is helping parents understand how Christian Education is a vital support structure that can enhance their child’s life? How do you reach those parents to explain the ways the school tremendously supports their parental efforts? Check out your promotional material. Do you spend all your time talking about the quality of your schools? Of course that is important. Parents want to know that their children will receive a top notch education. But frame that message in the context of how you meet needs! Include some concrete examples of ways that your school deals with REAL SITUATIONS and REAL PROBLEMS. Parents want to know that the school will HELP THEM to parent and will reinforce values that they are teaching their children. Give them some practical examples of life changes that happen in your school! How?
One of the best ways to find out how you are supporting parents is to ask them! And the best people to ask are those who are new to the system. When you are really familiar with Christian Education, it is easy to take many of the benefits for granted. Families new to the system (and especially those who have experienced education elsewhere) have real world experiences to compare to their current experience with your school system.
We have included a form that has some of the questions you can ask new families to the school system and/or first-time parents to your specific building. The form’s purpose is to learn how your school supports families as well as some gaps which they may help you identify.
Once you have a number of these responses, step back and consider:
1) How are you are getting those messages out to the community?
Are there some venues where telling those stories is quite natural?
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Are there some ways that
you can capture some of those stories with technology and put them
on your website? Or send them in email?
2) Are you able to provide any of the support that you currently
provide to your constituent parents, to prospective parents? If you
are able to provide services to prospective parents that will introduce
them to the schools in a more intimate manner, you will stumble
on a great recruiting process.
I am interested in hearing from all of you! How are you reaching non-traditional parents; welcoming them and bringing them to a position of belonging? Share your stories! I would like to present them in upcoming columns!
‘Til next time,