Leader's Guide ~ Parenting From the Tree of Life
One of the necessary steps leading to successful mentoring is helping parents transition from book knowledge to home and heart application. A good class leader does more than manage a small group on a given night, or point people to good resources—he or she influences lives. We trust the Parenting From the Tree of Life Leader’s Guide is one of the resources that will move class leaders to a deeper level of influence. While Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo authored the Life Series, Rich and Julie Young are the primary architects of the Leader's Guide. With input and feedback from class members and other long term GFI Leaders, (specifically Don and Karen Kurtz) this manual has become a "must-have" resource for anyone leading a Parenting From The Tree of Life class.
In terms of content, the Leader’s Guide parallels the comprehensive Life Series workbook released in 2015. The “Leader’s Section” located at the end of each chapter is highlighted with a gray header, such as above. It is there class facilitators will find the following lesson resources:
Under this heading, we recommend class facilitators write down their class member’s “take-aways” shared during the wrap-up time. We will explain the reason for keeping track of these points in a moment, but first let’s talk through the value of this particular educational tool.
One of the most important educational moments of any class is the conversation generated as a result of the DVD presentation. These “take-away” discussions reveal what is important to the class members or what caught their attention, either in the form of encouragement or correction. Although we provided a list of “Additional Questions for Discussion”, please understand these questions serve as a back up to the “take-away” sharing time and should not be viewed as “must ask” questions. The conversations that naturally flow out of the take-aways can easily fill up the entire discussion time. That is because what class members are sharing often reflects their most pressing parenting concerns.
We also recommend that before the DVD presentation begins, encourage your class members to be listening and writing down their key take-away points, because they will be called upon afterwards to share what was meaningful to them. This type of forewarning tends to heighten the participant’s attentiveness during the presentation. Then when the share time begins, do not ask, “Who would like to share their take-aways from today’s lesson?” Rather, approach this time more directly. “Let’s work through our take-aways from this lesson starting with [name] and go around the room.” Once the class members realize sharing during take-away time is not optional, they tend to be more attentive to the entire DVD presentation.
Now, returning to the recommendation for writing down your class member’s “take-away” points. You should summarize them in your weekly follow-up email. “Follow-up email!” you might be thinking. Yes, a follow-up email, because follow up is a big part of successful mentoring. We understand how busy life can be, and writing and sending weekly emails can seem burdensome for class leaders who are already sacrificing their personal time for ministry. That is why, for the leader’s convenience, we are providing email templates for each visit. The templates contain a variety of lesson-specific information and suggestions for at home activities. They are in a format that will allow leaders to edit and add content or personalize the information to meet specific class needs.
Additional Questions for Discussion
Next in the Leader’s Section comes the “Additional Questions for Discussion” section (answers included). As previously noted, the questions are provided only if they are needed to further stimulate class conversation, or if they reference a topic or principle you believe needs more attention or further clarification. Once again, let the class “take-away” discussion take priority when working through the lesson’s content, and use the optional questions as a backup if needed.
This Week at Home
Here, leader’s will find recommendations for practical at-home applications and reading assignments. Specific at-home recommendations are also included in the email templates.
Tools and Other Resources:
In addition to this leader’s manual, we have also designed a special class facilitator’s website for the Life Series that works in conjunction with the Leader’s Guide. There, leaders will find additional supportive resources including:
“Leader’s Place” DVD Presentation
While each mentoring couple will tailor their particular strengths to the unique needs of their class, there are some fundamental leadership principles for a successful class experience common to all small groups. We are confident that after watching this 22-minute presentation, every leader will be sufficiently equipped to begin his or her small group mentoring journey.
Variety of Class Management Forms
These forms include class registration, attendance sheets, refreshment sign-up and various lesson-related handouts.
Downloadable Email Templates
Sending out a weekly follow-up email has proven to be an effective tool. The email serves as a weekly encouragement and can be adapted to unique class needs or special events. Each email includes:
- A short lesson review and key verses.
- Summary of the key points from each lesson.
- A guide to homework and reading assignments.
- Practical suggestions for teaching children the principles derived from each lesson.
- Embedded video links that will take parents to a video review page containing the various scenarios Dad and Mom viewed during their lesson. This is a fun way for parents to teach their children the key principles contained in each visit, and children love seeing what Mom and Dad are learning.
Finally, we wish to encourage you in your role as mentors and leaders. We know the task is not always easy. However, we are confident that when the resources outlined above are utilized routinely, class leaders can achieve the primary objective of making the Life Series a “life-style” for each participating parent. Thanks for joining us.
Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo