Your name and church
James Norris, St Chads Woodseats (we held the course at St Chads, but the participants and volunteers, as well as the planning, were done together with St Peters Greenhill, St Pauls Norton Lees, St James Norton)
How did you use the Parenting for Faith materials?
As an eight-week course.
What day and time did you choose and how often?
We ran the sessions on Sundays after our 11am service, starting about 12.45pm and finishing around 2.15pm. Lunch was provided, and groups for the children of the parents who did the course.
Why did you choose to use the sessions like this?
By having the course straight after the service, it meant that the people who would want to do the course were already there! It also meant that no babysitters had to be found. Lunch was collected (buffet style) by the participants and the children (ages 0-4, 5-7, 8-13) and then taken to different areas to eat. This meant that children got to build community by eating together in groups, and the adults got to eat whilst the video played, meaning that we could make the session not go on too long into the afternoon.
Did you have to adapt the material to make it work for your sessions? If yes, can you tell us what you did?
We didn’t use all the pauses in the videos, but generally had a longer time for discussion after the entire video, with a shorter discussion (if at all) in an earlier pause.
We didn’t hand out any participant packs, but used PowerPoints to put questions up for discussion and (where necessary) bullet point summaries of video content. We also produced a two sided A4 sheet for the end of the course, overviewing the whole course.
What went well?
The catering: one person oversaw it all and gathered a team to help around her. The lunches were intentionally simple, but greatly appreciated. (N.B. We did not charge for the course, but asked people, if they could, do donate money to cover the cost of the food.)
Groups for children: each of the three groups had a leader who was there every week, with one additional helper each week. This gave great continuity, and the groups had a lot of fun together. The eldest group spent some of the time looking at a theme that came up in the video that week, and then fed back to the parents at the end of the session.
Discussion: people loved engaging with the material, thinking more carefully about not only their children’s faith, but also their own.
What didn’t go so well?
We decided there was no perfect time for a course like this, so we just went for it at the time we did. Some people wanted to do the course but could not.
We decided to have a one week break for the first Sunday in the half-term holiday. But attendance was low for the second Sunday in half-term too (but there also was chicken pox going around!).
Would you use the material like this again?
Yes. Probably not for a number of years though.
To enable those who couldn’t commit to Sundays to do it, we would probably do an evening course over, say, four weeks, doing two videos a week, but not using all of the content.
Do you have any top tips for others who might want to use the sessions like this?
Gather team to help as early as possible! Explain that people do not have to help every week, but if there is someone to lead each of the groups for children and oversea the catering, that is very helpful for continuity.
When thinking about discussion groups, either ask people to facilitate them, or ensure there are one or two people in each group who you know will naturally do that anyway.
Thank you to St Chad's Woodseats for the picture of their building.