1-2 weeks before
Send copies of your finalised session plan to the teacher(s) together with a covering letter. The covering letter is your chance to prompt teachers to do a few things that can make all the difference to a session. Ask them to:
- Confirm how many pupils are coming. If there are more, you may need to find more volunteers to help. You don’t want to waste materials if there are fewer than you thought – maybe there’s a trip for some children.
- Divide the children into groups before coming. If they haven’t planned this and told the children beforehand it will take several minutes out of the session when it’s done ad-hoc on the day.
- Prepare name badges for the children. You don’t have time to ask the children their names and learn them during the session. But it makes the world of difference in the engagement of the children and your ability to address any difficult behaviour if you can read their names and use them. In the summer, schools may be reluctant to have pupils walking in public with name badges visible. In this case encourage teachers to hand out badges as the children enter your church.
- Advise you about any children with special needs. Schools should have helpers to support children with statements of special educational needs (SEN). However it is still helpful to know. There may be other issues that it would be helpful to know about too depending on the topics covered – has there been a recent bereavement?
An example letter is available below.
- Send copies of your session plan to your helpers – together with any additional notes you may have to guide them. In your covering letter or email remind them what time they need to arrive and what you want them to do during the session.
- Check your supplies of craft materials and ask your helpers to do any craft preparation needed.
- Print any worksheets you need.
On the day
Allow plenty of time for setting up. Our session leaders will generally allow an hour – with other team members arriving 30 minutes before the session starts.
Allow time to pray as a group for the session, the school and for each other.
During the session
- Hand out feedback sheets to the teachers at the start of the session.
- Remember to tell the children that you are not there to change what they believe but to help them to learn something more about what Christians believe.
- Keep your eye on the time – make sure there is a clock you can see from the front.
- When working in a large group and children say things – repeat or summarise what they say to ensure the other children can hear.
- If you have the resources, offer refreshments to the teachers and others from the school – some of whom may be volunteer helpers.
- Collect feedback sheets from teachers before they leave.
- Make sure one of your team holds open the door and says ‘Good bye’ to the children as they leave. Even if you are in a school hall it’s good to do.
- Clear up your mess – there will be some – and pack away any equipment before you de-brief your team. This will give them time to reflect on what’s happened.
- De-brief the team. Ask for their feedback. What worked well? What didn’t work so well? What might they want to change? What did they see or hear to show the children were engaged and learning about God? Were there any protection or health and safety issues?
- Write or email your team to thank them for their help.If teachers didn’t return their feedback forms at the end of the session you will need to collect them or remind them to send them to you. Do read them and respond to any issues in a timely way.
- Please do give us your feedback on how the Session went.
Example covering letter
Download our example covering letter here.