Lower Ratio = Higher Impact

Studies show the critical importance of having low ratios in your children's ministry.  Research says that the lower the child-to-volunteer ratio, the more effective volunteers can be.  Lower ratios provides kids with better care and more verbal interaction with volunteers.  This enables children to build healthy relationships with each other and volunteers.
When volunteers are responsible for more children than they can manage, it causes stress and turns the ministry into corralling rather than communicating.  This leads to safety issues.
Lower child-to-volunteer ratios have also been associated with more positive development for kids including higher social competence. 
In children's ministry, the higher the ratio, the less effective the ministry will be.  The lower the ratio, the higher the impact will be.
Lower ratios =  a higher impact because kids can be personally known.

Lower ratios = a higher impact because kids can be prayed for individually.

Lower ratios = a higher impact because kids can have meaningful conversations.

Lower ratios - a higher impact because volunteers are more relaxed and effective.

Lower ratios = a higher impact because parents feel more secure about leaving their children.

Lower ratios = a higher impact because friendships can be built.

One of your top goals in children's ministry should be to have low ratios.  This is especially important as your ministry grows.  The larger you become, the smaller you must become at the same time.  You can have a large ministry and still not be making a significant impact, if your ratios are out of portion.

Think about it.  A new young couple with their first baby walks into your nursery.  They see a stressed out volunteer trying to care for 4 babies by herself.  Or...they walk into your nursery and see volunteers who each have one baby to care for and are lovingly rocking them.  Which do you think will have the highest positive impact on this young family you are trying to reach?

Or how about this?  A single mom brings her preschooler to your preschool area and sees two volunteers trying to corral thirty 3 & 4-year-olds in a noisy, crowded classroom.  Or...they walk in and see two volunteers in the room with 10-12 kids.  The volunteers are engaged with the kids and facilitating some activities.  Which do you think will have the highest positive impact in this family's life?

Or...a 4th grade boy walks into your elementary environment.  After sitting with 100 other kids in large group time, he is put in a group with 20 other kids and a volunteer.  Or...he gets placed in a group with 8 other kids and a volunteer.  Which do you think will have the highest positive impact in this child's life?

BTW - our tendency is to pay close attention to ratios in the nursery and preschool because of bigger safety issues.  We know we can "skimp by" in elementary if needed.  But in doing so, we lower the impact we are having in children's lives.  Kids' lives are not changed by cool videos,  awesome facilities or big budgets.  Kids' lives are changed when a volunteer can invest in them individually and build a relationship with them.  And this can only happen when you have low ratios.

So...the big question.  What should ratios be to make the highest impact?  In this post, I share ratios for each age group in children's ministry.  I want to challenge you to look at this and use it as a tool to measure where your ratios are currently.

And if you need more volunteers to lower your ratios, you can get help from new book "The Secret to Building Great Volunteer Teams."

Lower your ratios and you'll increase your impact.