Families and school groups
Welcoming children as visitors can be very rewarding, if challenging at times. They have different needs and are probably interested in wildly different things from the adults they are with. However, if you can engage with them and capture their interest it is far easier to see the delight in their faces and their keenness to learn more.
Churches, chapels and meeting houses offer a multi-faceted education resource. They can illustrate local and national history, art, architectural, crafts, geography and can contribute to the subjects of music, science, maths, geology and biology. Children develop creative skills and engage in practical activities inspired by the building around them.
Bear in mind that you should only ever be welcoming children who are accompanied by adults (parents, guardians or teachers) and therefore do not have to have responsibility for children’s behaviour.
A family affair
Families come to all events, not just those designed especially for them, so it’s worth building in some child friendly activities into everything you plan.
There is lots of advice and guidance available, and case studies of how other churches have engaged very successfully with children and families. There are also some great free offers available including that from the Arts Society and Angels & Pinnacles.
Angels & Pinnacles: heritage trails
The Arts Society: church trails
School visits are a very particular animal, and if you can understand them from the teachers point of view you will be far more successful at attracting more classes and making sure they leave with a great impression.
There are a few top tips you can bear in mind:
- Agree what you can offer and any rules you wish to make (including ensuring that there is at least one adult per 10 children), it is important that the responsible adults are made fully aware that during the visit they are still responsible for the children's good behaviour
- Give the children time to settle down when they first arrive, they will be excited
- Have a planned structure for the visit, and include features that the children will enjoy as well as those required by teachers
- Get the children involved and ask them questions as you go round
- Try to keep to time as teachers will get twitchy if you run over
Historic England: heritage schools
Hexham Abbey: school visits
Southwell & Nottingham Open Churches Project: open churches open minds