Ratios matter in children's ministry. I mean they really, really matter. I would go as far to say that ratios will determine your effectiveness in children's ministry.
Let's talk about why ratios are so important and the part it plays in a child's experience at church.
Right ratios make your ministry safer. When there are 30 preschoolers in a room with only 2 volunteers, accidents are more likely to happen. In your early childhood rooms, it's vital that you not only have a correct number of kids, but also enough volunteers to help keep the kids safe.
Right ratios helps each child be known, cared for and prayed for. When you don't have correct ratios, kids may leave having never heard their name called, not having someone look them in the eye and telling them how important they are to God. They may leave having not been personally prayed for.
Right ratios prevents volunteer burnout. When you don't have enough volunteers, it can cause the volunteers you do have to burn out. They end up doing more crowd control than teaching...which is not what they signed up for.
Right ratios makes the teaching more effective. Kids are able to participate more in the lesson. They can be an active part of the teaching.
Right rations makes the experience more enjoyable for kids. No one enjoys being crammed into a small space. And that includes kids as well. It's hard to listen and participate in activities when you are squeezed into a small area.
Right ratios can be a determining factor in whether guest families come back or not. There are a few things that guest families look for when checking out a church. One is safety and security. Will my child be safe and protected?
And they look at ratios. How many other kids are in the room? Will my child be able to express him/herself and be heard?
Right ratios requires you to build a strong volunteer team. Having the right ratios comes down to one big thing. If you are following ratios, is your volunteer team large enough to accommodate the number of kids attending? Are your volunteers trained properly?
If you need help with building your volunteer team up, then get my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams. This book will help you build your volunteer team and get your room ratios up to where they should be. You can get it as an ebook or paperback at www.buildingchildrensministry.com.
The bottom line is this: Lowering child-to-volunteer ratios helps ensure that children receive adequate care, supervision and Christian education.
When ratios are met, it sets your volunteers up to provide high-impact interactions with children. When ratios are not met, it can cause children to not be known or truly connected. It's that important.
You may be wandering what proper ratios looks like. Here are the ratios I follow.
Infants - 1 volunteer for every 2 children (minimum - ideally 1 volunteer for every 1 child
Crawlers - 1 volunteer for every 3 children
Toddlers - 1 volunteer for every 4 children
2-year-olds - 1 volunteer for every 4 children
3-year-olds - 1 volunteer for every 8 children
4-year-olds - 1 volunteer for every 8 children
5-year-olds thru 5th grade - 1 volunteer for every 10 children (minimum - ideally 1 volunteer for every 8 children)
I want to challenge you to take a look at your current ratios. Do you need to add some more volunteers? Do guest families look into your preschool rooms and see chaos. Do elementary kids have the opportunity to be in a small group. (BTW - ever tried to do a small group with 20 kids? That's not a small group...that's a crowd.)
This takes us back to this quote...
"Everything rises and falls on the strength of volunteer team you build."
GREAT VOLUNTEERS + GREAT RATIOS = GREAT IMPACT IN THE LIVES OF KIDS.
Your turn. Share your thoughts, ideas and insights about ratios in the comment section below.