While it’s still early August, and many families are on vacation, and parishes are still on their “summer schedules” or still working on their Festivals, another Sunday Church School year is just around the corner. That means now is the time to plan and organize so that when Sunday school begins, everything is in place.
Here are some things to do. This list may look overwhelming, but by starting to work on it now, you can make steady progress to be ready for that first day of Sunday school.
First, pray for your students, teachers, and their families. Pray that God will give them a good year, inspire them to learn and deepen their knowledge of the Orthodox Christian Faith and practice it with more dedication. The Paraklesis Services through the Dormition Fast period are an excellent opportunity to bring your prayers to the Theotokos and ask her for guidance.
Second, review the calendar. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on Sundays this year. Pascha falls early in 2018, which will affect your schedule. Triodion begins January 28, 2018, Clean Monday is February 19, and Pascha falls on April 8 (one week later than the West). Once you’ve noted that, schedule events and programs, the Christmas program, the Lenten retreat, the Good Friday retreat, the parish Oratorical Festival, and all the other events and programs your parish holds (a parish calendar is a good idea too). Create a calendar that can be shared with the parents and students and publicize it.
Third, review class assignments with teachers. Who will they be teaching this year? Who will teachers work with as assistants? What will various parents help with this year?
Fourth, review the class spaces and supplies. Make sure everything is working, in good repair, and that there are adequate materials ready for the classrooms.
Fifth, related to supplies and resources, order now! Take advantage of the “back to school sales” in your local stores. Order books and materials from the Archdiocese (OrthodoxMarketplace.com) now.
Sixth, start implementing ways to “keep kids safe” in your program. Discuss appropriate and inappropriate forms of interaction with children and youth. There are many items for consideration, too many to list here. Public school teachers, medical professionals, law enforcement professionals could be invited to offer their insights into best practices for your parish.
Seventh, schedule teacher development time. Poll the teachers for topics they want to learn about and schedule a few times through the year to meet to study together. Theological topics will be on the list and parish priest will be your primary teacher, for those, or local experts. But don’t forget educational topics and experts in your parish or neighboring parishes on those as well.