Can you imagine getting into the car, turning on the engine and driving off … but without having any idea of where you’re going?
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Yet it is possible to launch into another year of running a toddler group, expending massive amounts of physical, mental and emotional energy, with no clear idea of where you are going.
In the business world, there’s a saying that the person who aims at nothing is sure to hit it. It’s certainly not true to say that your group will achieve nothing unless you know what you’re aiming for. But there is a sense in which you’re unlikely to achieveas much as you could, or the things that you’d actually like to achieve.
So, before you get into the driving seat and set off for another year of activity, it could be time well spent to stop to ask yourself where you would like to go.
Share the vision
You may have team members who are happy to be passengers in your car, willing to go where you take them. Others, however, may like to share the driving and be involved in the decision-making process. Either way, they will probably appreciate you sharing your vision for the group with them so that they know where you see the group heading.
Plan your journey
Another business maxim is: “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” With your aim (or aims) clearly expressed, it should be easier to see how to get from A to B. So, for example, if you have a small group and you want to attract new families, part of your planning is likely to involve considering how to publicise your group. And if your group sees a high turnover of parents, you may need to examine the reasons why they are leaving and find a solution to this problem.
However, just as a long journey may need to be divided into more manageable sections, you may need to divide your toddler group’s journey into smaller steps. There is, for example, a huge distance between a family attending a midweek toddler group session and turning up for a church service on Sunday.
Share the load
Most toddler group leaders are ‘doers’ … they have to be! However, remember that with a clear plan some tasks could be delegated to others. So, to return to the driving analogy one last time: if anyone is willing to do some of the driving, encourage them to do so. Let them share the load. Give them the freedom to plan some of the route and to do some of the driving – like doing ‘story time’ each week, or taking responsibility for the weekly craft activity or refreshments.
With a common understanding of where you’re going, the journey will be less tiring and you’ll be confident that you’re all heading in the right direction. And hopefully you’ll end up where you want to be!