As a small group leader do you ever feel like there is not enough time in one hour to do everything you need to do? Most of us can say we have felt that way on more than one occasion. Add a child with special needs to the mix and sometimes your hour can get even more packed than before. Communication with every parent is important but even more so with the parent of a child with special needs.
I am blessed to serve alongside many great small group leaders in our ministry. One in particular is AMAZING when it comes to working with young kids with learning differences while keeping them in their typical learning environment with their peers. During the week she plans out what she will do in the classroom and even comes up with special activities for her little ones with special needs. When that child does not show up, after she has worked all week to help make the specific lesson come alive for them, it can be frustrating. Can you relate?
For preschoolers with special needs communication with parents is key. Here are some simple ways to make sure that you and the parent of the child with special needs (or any child for that matter) are on the same page:
- Most parents text. So, give them your cell number. This is an easy and effective way for them to communicate with you. If you know their plan ahead of time it can only help. This may save you time and energy in the long run! It also helps you to know if there are any last minute issues or if the church needs to reach out to them in any way.
- Use an “Exit Ticket”—something each child turns in on their way out the door telling you (or the parent) little details about their time in small group. A great example of this is found on the Surviving to Thriving: Successfully Including a Child with Special Needs training DVD. These are a great tool to help communicate to parents how their kids did during service time, what they liked and what they learned.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again! I can’t say this enough. Parents that have kids with special needs have crazy lives just like the rest of us—usually crazier! Give grace where you can. If they forget to text or call you and let you know they are not going to show up just let them know how much it helps when they do. Hopefully, next time they will.
Good communication with these parents is so important. Our goal should be to build a relationship with them so that we can partner together to help their child on their spiritual journey and to see them become an active member within their body of believers.
Do you have a child with special needs in your group? What are some ways you have successfully included them each week?