Laura asked me to blog about what can help you get off to a good start with your CnC program. I think part of it is really educating the parents, mentors, and vestry. I wanted to talk about each of those partnerships with a short post, starting with the parents.
In general, I think it’s really important to find the time to provide an education for the parents about what you’re doing, and that’s hard to do because they think they know. And then the year starts to get super busy and suddenly you’re getting calls from parents saying, “Why did I sign up for this? It’s so time-consuming.”
So it’s really important to have that orientation at the beginning of the program to make sure that they are clear about the program, that there’s homework, and that the kids are expected to come.
But you also need to provide support to the parents through the year. Don’t wait until there are complaints or a kid drops out. Send quick emails weekly saying, “Just a reminder: this is what we’re doing and here’s what you need to know.” Do everything you can to keep them in the loop.
It’s not just the program that parents find time consuming. Parents want to quit because they’re tired of fighting—tired of fighting with their kids, but also with coaches and all those extracurricular demands. Do anything you can to support them, even whining with them: “I know, it’s really tough to fit all this in, but it really is worth it.” Acknowledge their frustration, but point out the reward.
Remember that kids are used to doing what adults around them tell them to do. With the parents, you need to be aware of the trade-offs they’re making and the costs to them. The easier you can make it for the parents, the more they can understand what is going on and why it is worth it, the more likely they are to buy in to the program and support it when the going gets tough.