Keeping volunteer children’s staff around for more than a year can be difficult. The demands of working with children can be huge, but given good leadership, it is possible to have less turn-over. Here are 11 keys to keep children’s staff happy in their roles.
- Assign an experienced teacher to mentor a new teacher into the position. You wouldn’t start a new job without some kind of orientation. We shouldn’t expect children’s staff to do the same. The best training is for every new teacher to first be a helper to an experienced teacher for at least one week. Then trade roles the next week, giving the new teacher the chance to lead the class with the mentor as the helper.
- Find good helpers for your teachers. Often times teachers are asked to recruit their own helpers. This can put teachers in an awkward position as well as open the door for people you’d rather not have helping. Do take suggestions from teachers for helpers, but you should talk with the potential helper.
- Work hard at giving teachers enough help. There’s a big advantage to having two helpers if the class is sizable, even if that third helper is a teenager.
- Don’t ask the teacher to find their own substitute. Switching with someone for another Sunday can work well, but if a switch can’t be made for some reason, then have the teacher call you for the sub. This allows you to decide who will teach and takes the burden of recruiting off the teacher.
- Give plenty of encouragement to the teacher, both verbal and written.
- Talk about how great your staff is to other people in the church. Name people individually.
- Provide plenty of supplies and put them in an accessible place.
- Offer breaks to long-term teachers. If you can give a summer break to your weekly staff, they’ll most likely come back year after year. Most people can handle one major ministry and one minor ministry. In children’s ministry, a major ministry would be teaching since it involves preparation. A minor ministry would be helping if it doesn’t involve preparation. Be careful your staff has the opportunity for adult fellowship. If you have a weekly Sunday School teacher, don’t ask them to also help Wednesday nights. This gives the opportunity for the teacher to attend a Wednesday night Bible study if there is one.
- Recruit coaches to oversee several teachers in one area of the ministry. For example: Ask one experienced pre-school teacher to coach all teachers in the pre-school department. The coach’s role is to mentor new teachers and helpers and encourage the current staff. Make this a manageable number. If you give too many staff to one person, it won’t be effective.
- Always contact someone who didn’t show up for a scheduled assignment. This can be a very gentle reminder they were missed. By not making contact, you are implying that the individual isn’t needed in that role.
- Avoid calling your volunteers children’s workers. I always prefer children’s staff because it sounds more like a team.
Your volunteer children’s staff are lifting the kids in your church to Jesus. By giving them the support they need, you will encourage them to take pride in their position and stay around longer.