Exit Interviews: Your New Secret Weapon in Kids Ministry

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Young girl holding pen and writing pad
Conducting exit interviews and issuing each child an “exit ticket” at the end of a ministry period is a great exercise for reinforcing Bible lessons and communicating with parents. Dr. Alyssa Barnes, an education faculty member at North Georgia College & State University, gave me the idea for creating daily exit tickets inside a children’s ministry setting. Barnes explained that by doing brief one-on-one interviews at the conclusion of small groups or VBS.

“Children leave with a refreshed memory of the day’s lesson. And by briefly documenting a child’s answers on an exit ticket, parents are able to continue the dialogue outside of class. For younger children or students with poor communication skills, parents especially appreciate the evidence of their child’s participation and spiritual development.”

For the past two years I have made exit interviews and exit tickets a part of my daily routine for VBS participants. Each day’s exit ticket shows the child’s answers for the following three questions:

  1. Today I learned about:
  2. Today I prayed about:
  3. Today my favorite thing was:

Children's Ministry learning tool
The bottom of the ticket then gives a one-sentence description for the day’s Bible story along with the scripture reference for the lesson and memory verse. This exercise was an immediate hit with the teachers, children, and parents .

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Why Exit Interviews Work

1. The Bible lesson was reinforced for every child.
The scripture and lesson take-away are repeated during the individual teacher-student conversations. Even more important, children are listening to their peers articulate what they learned, further helping the students absorb the day’s teaching.
2. The exit interviews provided a final class activity without preparing a craft.
Children become restless and prone to problems at the end of a period. For the last fifteen to twenty minutes of each day we allowed the children to engage in free-play while leaders conducted student interviews. The interviews added some class structure without requiring students’ focus or concentration. The children looked forward to their one-on-one teacher conversations while they honored our reminders for whispers as others were interviewing.
3. Every child left the class with a favorite memory.
Even the ornery little boy who pushed the teachers to their limit could depart the ministry environment reflecting on a favorite thing (usually snack time!).
4. Teachers were provided a meaningful or anecdotal insight to share with parents.
Every parent loves to hear a compliment or cute comment about their child during pick-up. Repeatedly, insights from the exit interview provided such a remark for the dismissing teacher. Don’t underestimate the value of check-out conversations with parents, as they often provide an opportunity for the church to create connection with a visiting family.
5. For children with special needs the exit ticket is especially valuable and easily adaptable.
Two years ago my VBS room included a child with pervasive developmental disorder (PDD is an autism spectrum disorder). While high functioning, this student rarely offered verbal feedback or peer interaction. Without fail and every day, this child gave enthusiastic one-word answers to each interview question. He had, in fact, been listening! As a teacher, the exit interview with this child was incredibly meaningful and my evidence of success. More than once I shared a celebratory moment (sometimes teary-eyed) with this particular student’s mother during check-out.
For children who communicate through non-verbal means, Dr. Barnes recommends providing picture symbols to correspond with the day’s lesson and activities. Students are then enabled to select pictures as answers and affix them to their exit ticket.
Amy Fenton Lee enjoys equipping churches for special needs inclusion at www.theinclusivechurch.com. For more on Amy and her writing see www.amyfentonlee.com.
Example Exit Ticket:

Day 2 Exit Ticket – Saddle Ridge Ranch VBS, FBC Cumming
My Name:
Today at the ranch I learned about:
Today at the ranch I prayed about:
Today at the ranch my favorite thing was:
Today’s Bible story & Bible verse:
God Took Care of Joseph – Genesis 45: 1 – 28
1 Peter 5:7: “God cares for you.”

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