Agreement for Parents to Help at Youth Group
Parental involvement is often the key to making any youth group successful. When parents take an active part in their children's activities, they reinforce learning both inside and outside the home. But ensuring that parents help out on a regular basis can be difficult, which is why it's important to actively encourage their involvement from the very beginning.
One way to do this is to ask parents to draft an agreement outlining the ways in which they can regularly help out and contribute to the youth group. It can be a bit tricky, as you don't want to alienate children whose parents are too busy – or perhaps too disinterested – to take part. Still, hammering out a type of “contract” where at least most parents agree to help out on a rota basis can be extremely helpful.
Sample AgreementA parental agreement can raise standards in the youth group as a whole, and also contribute to partnerships between parents and their children. Actively encouraging parents to take part in drafting the agreement will allow them to see the goals you are trying to achieve, and make them better appreciate the framework of the group on the whole.
Here are some ideas you can include in your agreement. Remember, the best ones are those that reflect not only the particular ethos of your youth group, but also its own unique features...
As a parent of a child in the Youth Group, I promise to:
- Take an active interest in the activities of the Youth Group
- Encourage and praise my child's progress and achievements in the activities in which they participate
- Ensure that my child will attend regularly and on time
- Sign up to help on a rota basis, after speaking to the Youth Group leader to discuss my own particular talents and potential contributions to the group, meaning that an adult member of our family will (a) Help at least two Youth Group meetings a year (b) Attend one Youth Group off-site journey per year
Positive ApproachTaking a positive approach towards involving parents in youth group activities can work wonders. Here are some ways you can motivate them to become actively involved:
- Encourage parents to help plan the youth group's programmes and activities, within reason. When parents feel they have an active role in helping plan activities, they are more likely to help.
- Make sure parents feel they are always doing something worthwhile, and show them you appreciate their time and efforts.
- Plan a social event for parents or a parents-only workshop, so that they can mingle with others and hopefully form friendships of their own which will encourage them to return.
- Let parents have a turn holding specific leadership roles, even if this means simply giving a talk on a specific subject at an afternoon session. Show a regular interest in both parent and child, and let the parents know that you have an interest in and are following the progress of their children.
- Try to discover what specific skills the parents have, and ask them to donate their time once a term based on that. You might find you have a vet, professional chef or even a professional football coach in your midst!
- Ask busy parents to support the activities of the youth group from afar. This can mean helping raise charity funds, bringing food to a barbecue, or pitching in on an ad hoc basis.
Points to Consider
Remember, each youth group is different, and what works best for one group may not work for another. It's important to allow the parents to take the lead in forming an agreement, and to let them thrash one out that works best for them. Other points to consider include:
- Parents who want to become involved on a more regular basis will need to have a completed DBS check (formerly CRB, or Criminal Records Bureau check) before they will be allowed to interact with the kids.
- Some parents will not help out because they don't have the time, have other commitments or simply don't want to. Don't penalise the child for the actions of their parents. Children whose parents are disinterested in what they do are probably those who will benefit from a strong youth group the most!
- Occasionally parents start out with the best intentions, but never quite follow through on their promises. If you rely 100 percent on full parental involvement, you may find yourself left short. Make sure you have alternative helpers on hand.
- The best way to enlist the help of parents is through positive reinforcement, by motivating them to give freely of their time and talents and letting them see the results of their actions. Don't say, “If we don't have two adult helpers next week we cannot go on the journey.” Instead, say: “Two or three adult helpers joining us next week will really make the journey worthwhile.”
Many parents are more than willing to help out in their children's youth group activities when they feel they are taking an active role, and that their work is valued and appreciated. Hopefully, the parents in your youth group will come up with a working agreement which will motivate and encourage them to pitch in as much as possible.