Influencing the Faith in Families when you are JUST the Classroom Teacher
You have your students 7 hours a day, 5 days a week—mainly for academics. But you know your call is about more than just “school” work. It’s about encouraging the spiritual life of everyone in the family. Looking for ideas to encourage the parents or caregivers? Do you want to build them up in their responsibility as the spiritual head of the home? Here are a few ways to help do that.
Create a newsletter. Before you say, “check” I do that, does it include a “Faith At Home” section? Think about the books that you have read that you want to buy in bulk and give to parents at the start of every year. Highlight them here. But don’t just give the parents a title. Give them a glimpse, a quote, a tag line. Something that will resonate with them. If your newsletter is electronic – make sure and include the link to Amazon or the local library. Make a list of all the resources, websites, articles, etc. that you could potentially share, and let it grow. Then, you will always have something at your fingertips for the newsletter at midnight when you are still trying to get it out.
If you don’t want to share resources, consider 9 different themes; one for each month of the school year. Kindness, friendship, gossip, truthfulness, competition, forgiveness, integrity, encouragement, and love are just a few. Use each newsletter to highlight a Bible verse and give them something to talk about with their child. Maybe offer a question that they can ask or a phrase they can say to their child at a certain point in the day.
If you don’t want to do a newsletter, consider sending home a weekly devotion that takes 20 minutes. If you did this each week for 35 weeks, your families could be in the Word together 700 minutes during the school year!
Are you techie? Teach your parents by demonstration. Film yourself doing a devotion with a prayer. Have your class around you. Post the video on a password protected page or on YouTube. (Videos with children can be set to private and only shared through a link you provide.) If you want to do this but don’t know how, the middle school students probably do. It would take them a few minutes to show you, and soon you would be uploading videos faster than the class could take a drink break. The 21st century parent will watch if they know it is from their child’s teacher, and it could benefit their child.
Invite your families to church AND Sunday school/Bible class. Don’t discount the power of the invitation. Send home an invite/postcard at the start of each school year. Have a stack to hand out during conferences. Always make sure the worship opportunities are on your email or newsletter. If there is a new Bible class starting invite them to meet you there.
It is important for your families to see you in worship but also to study God’s Word with you in Bible class. Remember you ask the children for their worship and Sunday school attendance. Maybe mark your own attendance as well or better yet have one of your students get the chance to ask you each week. It could be a fun classroom job!
When you see parents, communicate gratefulness that you saw them that morning. If you are worried about being asked about school issues, be gracious but let them know your boundaries. It can be a simple, “I like to keep my Sunday mornings as my personal time to worship but send me an email, and I’ll get back to you tonight or tomorrow.” Parents sometimes forget that teachers have lives outside of school. (Remember that time your student was surprised to see you at the grocery store and in a ball cap?) Parents usually need to be told once, and they will honor your request and respect you more for it.
As a classroom teacher you do spend more time with these students each day than their parents. The minutes these parents have between homework, dinner, and evening commitments are few. But equipping the home to be the primary place where faith is lived and nurtured is life changing. Any encouragement, support, or resource put in their hands equips caregivers to be the primary spiritual influence that God has called them to be.
Deuteronomy 32:2-3: “Let my teaching fall like rain and my word settle like dew, like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants. For I will proclaim the Lord’s name. Declare the greatness of our God!”