How to solve your parent communication headache.
When it comes to communicating with parents, a lot of KidMin leaders want to bang their head on a hard surface. "It just seems like they don't care." That's the conclusion that so many KidMin leaders have arrived at. But it's (mostly) not true. Parents really do want to hear about what their kids are learning in church and they want to continue that conversation at home. So what's the problem? For one, we as KidMin leaders need to be smarter about the way we communicate with parents. And if we want to get smarter, we need to learn from the best. And who is the best? It's the marketers. They've been figuring out how to reach the parents in our congregations for decades. In marketing, there are 2 terms that can be very helpful to a KidMin leader: reach and engagement. Simply put, "reach" is the number of people you're able to contact with your message at one time and "engagement" is the number of people who actually read or hear your message.
With that in mind, here's a quick evaluation of some different methods of communication: E-mail: High reach, low engagement. You can reach a thousand people with the click of a button, but only about 20-25% of those people will open and engage with the message. Take-home sheets: High reach, low engagement. Every parent who picks up their child from your KidMin will get a take-home sheet, but most of those sheets will land in the trash unread. With that said, there's a way to get better engagement with your take-home sheets. I wrote about that here. Social media: Low reach, medium engagement. There are a number of different social media platforms, but Facebook is the biggest. The problem is that Facebook purposefully keeps your posts from reaching the vast majority of people who like your page. In 2015, a study found that the average organic reach on Facebook was 2.6%. That's terrible! If you want to reach more of your "fans", they want you to "boost" it for money. Texting: High reach, high engagement. I wrote in depth about texting here. Like email, you can reach a ton of people with the tap of a button. Unlike email, people will actually open and engage with your message. The challenge with texting is keeping your message short. Personal greeting cards and post cards: Low reach, high engagement. It's expensive and time consuming to send a lot of cards to a lot of people, but the engagement level and impact are through the roof. You can read more of my thoughts about cards here. Face to face: Low reach, high engagement. Parent meetings aren't usually that well attended, but for the parents who do show up, you've got a captive and engaged audience.
So which of these methods is the right one to use? There is no right one. Different people engage better with different forms of communication, so the best approach is to use a combination of these methods. Here's an example of what that might look like: On Sunday, during pick up time, give parents a take-home sheet that shows what their kid learned (and created, and prayed, and journaled, etc.) at church. On Monday or Tuesday, send a text to parents with the "Big Idea" or main point from the previous weekend's lesson along with a question they can ask their kids. Post the same thing on social media with an eye-catching picture or slide. On Thursday, post on social media about the upcoming lesson. Here's an example of what that might look like. Once a week, send a personal card to the new kids/families who visited your KidMin. Also, put a stack of post cards in your KidMin rooms and encourage your volunteers to write one card each week. Send those out for the volunteers during the week. Once a quarter, send an email newsletter to your parents that highlights what's happening in your Kidmin. Tell them about some resources (include links) that might help them parent their kids spiritually. Once a year, have a parent meeting or class where you train your parents on how to partner with you and how to become a spiritual champion in their kid's life.
Of course, this is just an example. You know your ministry context and your families best, so mix and match in whatever way you think works!