Building Relationship with Children
As you begin a new church year and children move into new classrooms with new leaders, consider ways to build relationships with the children. Review the enrollment records for each group or classroom of children. Assign 5 or 6 children to each teacher in that classroom for purpose of contacting, visiting, and mentoring.
Provide the teachers with the addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays of the assigned children as well as their parents’ names for purposes of contacting.
Leaders are more likely to maintain contact (letters, phone calls, emails, visits) when they are assigned a few children rather than several children.
Children Still Think You Are Important
How would you feel if your pastor phoned you and said “Joey, I’d like to come by your house for a short visit.” Your immediate response would most likely be “Why does the pastor want to come to my house?” Your next response might be “Well, the pastor must think I’m important if he wants to stop by my house.”
Similarly, a child thinks herself to be of value if her Bible study leader wants to stop by her house for a visit.
Here are some hints for visiting with a child:
- Make an appointment to visit with child and family. Having an appointment saves time.
- Let the family know up-front that you plan to visit for only 10 minutes.
- Visit only when adult family member is present.
- Tell family the purpose of your visit, i.e. “I’m Joey’s new teacher; I plan to visit all the boys and girls in my care group.”
- Take a magazine or Bible game to leave with child and family.
- Ask child how he likes to learn (drama, drawing, writing, games, etc.)
- Take notice of other children and/or persons in the family.
- Are there pets in the home?
Ensuring a Good Time for All
As we begin a new church year and as new children enter your classroom/department, consider writing a letter to each family whose child is in your classroom at church house.
First, give brief information about yourself—why you’re teaching; how long been been a Christ-follower; what you enjoy about teaching at church house.
Secondly, share briefly your goals for the new learning year—children learn to cooperate; children learn consideration of others; children have opportunity to make choices; children learn in ways that excite them, etc. You might give the parents your home phone number or email address.
Thirdly, ask parents to let you know important information about their children—child stops his medication on weekends; child’s pet died over the weekend; child visits the non-custodial parent on weekends; child has a reading difficulty, etc.
Fourthly, suggest ways that parents might be involved in the spiritual growth of their children.
Might you write a letter to the parents each month, relating to them the upcoming study—the Bible people to be studied; the Bible ideas/concepts (honesty, integrity, courage, etc.) to be internalized; Bible verses; learning methods (i.e., we’re writing a drama this month.) to be used as well as your joy in having the opportunity to partner with them in helping their children to be like Jesus?
Planting a Garden at the Church House
What if we planted tomato plants this time of year? Would they have enough time to develop a root system to withstand the summer temperatures? Is there space at your church house to plant a small vegetable and flower garden? Consider planting such a garden (perhaps in 2007) that older preschoolers and perhaps first & second graders would care for—plant, pull weeds, check weekly, harvest the produce.
Why a garden with older preschooler and younger children? In addition to children learning math and science concepts, children learn about stewardship of the earth, continuity of the seasons, God’s provisions, joy in God’s Creation—all Biblical and theological concepts. I know one elementary teacher who, each year, planted a garden at the school house with her 4th graders.
Parents/Children sessions in Sunday School/Bible Study
Since we know that parents/family are the primary faith-shapers for their children, might your church implement a quarterly Parents/Children session on the 5th Sunday of each quarter? Might you swap Bible study space with an adult group for one Sunday?
- Enlist a group of parents, children, and children’s leaders to help plan & implement a Parents/Children time.
- Choose a theme or topic
- Plan experiential activities for families to do Together; parents aren’t sitting “on the sidelines”. Include a Bible story and music.
- End with light refreshments! Great fun! Great modeling! Great learning!
Not quite sure what to do in your children’s area on Labor Day Sunday?
New quarter begins Labor Day Sunday and many leaders are out of town. What if you planned for the grade schoolers to participate in service/helping-hands projects on Labor Day Sunday?
Here are some ideas of helping-hands projects:
- Wash windows in the educational space.
- Organize the preschool and children’s resource closets.
- Set-up a filing system for the Bible pictures used in children’s area and file the Bible pictures in appropriate categories [filing system is indicated on the Bible pictures, if your church uses Lifeway materials.].
- Look through and clip from magazines pictures that preschoolers might use (fruit, vegetables, pets, families, plants, flowers, et.) and file in labeled envelopes or clear “shoe boxes.”
Children and Postcards
As you plan for your summer vacation, plan to take a listing of the names and addresses of the names of boys and girls in your classroom at church with you. Send the children postcards of the places you visit on your vacation. Be sure to include a message “I’m praying for you while I’m away. See you soon!”