Before CCD starts it is a good idea to have an Open House. Why is that important? Nothing is better than starting CCD off on the right foot and the best way to do that is to have an Open House prior to classes starting. Having a CCD Open House allows parents and students to meet the catechists, pick up class information, tour the classrooms, and ask questions. This gives the catechist a chance to greet each family individually, and to collect requested items and information. By having a CCD Open House it will alleviate any worries and questions parents may have and it will give the family reassurance and encouragement of what the CCD program is all about. Students and parents will understandably feel more confident when they know exactly where they are going and what to expect the first day, and everyone will be reassured enough to get a good night’s sleep before CCD starts.
Print out flyers letting parents know when and where the Open House will be and other information that parents will find pertinent. Have the flyer be colorful and enticing to grab anyone’s attention and make them want to come to this wonderful event. Be sure to have the church, priest, and Religious Program Director’s names on the flyer and the contact phone number if they have any questions. Put the flyers in the church bulletin; post them in various places around the church, the church website, advertize in the local paper, etc. way in advance so parents can make arrangements to come.
Meeting parents can be quite daunting, but if you remember to be yourself, it will make it a whole lot easier. The parents are nervous too and want to make a good impression as well. Maybe the following ideas will help keep the jitters at bay and allow you to have a great CCD Open House.
What should the catechist do during Open House?
Welcome everyone that comes into your class during Open House. Smile, introduce yourself, and give parents an introductory letter. The catechist can provide the parents at the CCD Open House with information of what is expected in the classroom and what the children will be doing during the year. They can also inform parents of the expectations and rules of the class that will help in making the classroom productive, creative, and enjoyable year for all.
What should the catechist provide to the parents during Open House?
• Welcome parents to the open house and tell them how pleased you are to meet them.
• The CCD program’s discipline policy, including procedures regarding absence and tardiness.
• Describe the goals you hope to accomplish this year.
• The timing of report cards and progress reports.
• Emergency procedures for bad weather and other events.
• Go over class rules.
• Classroom attendance and tardiness guidelines. Make-up work policy.
• Classroom grading policy.
• Amount of homework and homework policy.
• Policy for addressing academic and behavioral problems.
• Provide a calendar of the CCD schedule (days and times CCD meets), upcoming events, such as class field trips and future parent-teacher meetings, etc. and the policies concerning them.
• Give detailed information how parents can get involved in their child’s faith education and how they can volunteer at CCD. Provide Volunteer Sign Up Sheets for parents interested in helping at CCD. Have a Class Contact List for the parents to fill out to obtain information that can help aid the catechist in better understanding their child and how to contact them.
• Answer questions from parents and students.
• Provide copies of all information to give to parents.
• Have the classroom prepared and set up like it is a normal day in CCD. Students and parent enjoy seeing what the classroom will be like and it will also disperse any apprehension.
• Introduce the curriculum that will be used in the classroom and the supplemental activities that will enhance the lessons so the parents and students will be familiar with them and know what to expect. Show the students and parents some activities, crafts, games, etc. that will be done during the year in class. This is a great way to introduce how you make the aspects of what you teach more concrete and easier for the students to understand and how much fun they will have in CCD as well. Place these items on a large table to allow students and parents time to look through them at their own convenience.
• Be sure to thank the families for coming during the Open House. I would also send a thank you note to the families ASAP after the Open House. A card or email will reinforce communication and how much you as a catechist appreciate the parents enthusiasm for promoting their child’s faith education.
• Marilyn Western has a few creative ideas for Open House that are fun and educational too: You can put together a formal program or you could have a simple "Scavenger Hunt" in which the child and family can become familiar with his/her new room (parents can read the items to pre-readers). Make a list of items that are easily located in the room that will be useful for the students to know where they are (clock, bathroom, Kleenex, bulletin board, chalk board, cubbies, Prayer Chart, Homework Chart, their desk with their name on it, etc.) Include yourself as the last item to be found. This gives you an opportunity to talk once again with your new student. This is also a great time to take a photo of the student with their family (this really helps put a name to a face later at conferences).
• Marilyn also has a great idea for helping children recognize their teacher: With primary children, it's also helpful to wear something bright at Open House. If you wear the same outfit for the first day of CCD, younger children will be able to easily recognize you on the playground, or at the door, or wherever you collect your group.
*Problems can and do arise during Open House, but here are a few suggestions that might come in handy:
brighthub.com- Problems & Solutions for Middle School Open Houses (these are great ideas that can used for CCD as well)
Are you having a CCD Open House prior to classes starting?
Copyright 2010 Laura Grace
About the Author
Laura Grace was a special education teacher years ago and has taught CCD for 16 years. She has been a contributor at catholicmom.com since 2006, is part of the Gospel Reflections Team, and creates lesson plans for religious education and homeschooling. In 2008 Laura started her own blog, The Catholic Toolbox where she posts activities, crafts, games, worksheets, puzzles, lesson plans, classroom tips, etc. for all ages.