Feb 162016
 

britt blogToday’s post is a guest post by one of our Crossing Kids interns, Brittany Hughes.  Brittany works a few hours a week behind the scenes, and helps supervise Elementary classrooms on Sunday mornings.  You can also find her in the Preschool hallway during Seeds of Promise every Tuesday.  Brittany is known around The Crossing for her contagious smile, and her kind heart.  This past fall Brittany had the opportunity to attend The Orange Tour with some of our staff and interns, and has been eager to share her wisdom and learning ever since!

 

 

As an intern you commit to existing in this strange space of not just a volunteer but not quite staff. One of the advantages to this hybrid space is that I am able to have focused relationships with kids of varying ages. Many things change in the time between kindergarten and fifth grade. Style, the type of activities kids like to do (believe it or not “duck, duck, goose” doesn’t go as well with fourth grader as it does second graders). However, one thing I’m learning to be pretty consistent no matter a child’s age is that they all have a desire to be seen, heard, and valued. In short children want to know that they matter.

In the fall I had the opportunity to travel to Kansas City for the Orange Tour. Reggie Joiner, founder of Think Orange, said something during one of the large group sessions that has stuck with me:

Every kid is made in the image of God and our responsibility is to see Jesus not just their sin. We can’t possibly expect them to follow Jesus until we treat them like they are made in his image.

As cliché as it sounds so much of the way children interact with me on Sunday morning is dependent on the way in which I approach them. Do I present myself as someone who is inviting and ready to have great morning? Am I actively participating in Sunday morning activities (i.e. free play, engaging kids in conversation, singing and doing motions in large group, etc.)? Am I actively choosing to view kids in the image of God or am I missing the big picture? I am praying for you all as you continue to serve in your respective areas. It is my hope that we can see kids as the unique and wonderfully made people they are and that our response to that will be one that changes the tones of our classrooms.

Nov 202015
 

A few years ago I wrote some recommendations for parents facing separation anxiety. You can find those recommendations here.  tI wanted to write to the volunteers today. What about that kid who comes, kicking and screaming into your classroom (literally)? How do you help that little person feel safe and calm? It won’t happen every time but here are my recommendations.

 

1. Take the Lead

It’s heart wrenching to be a parent and watch your child cry as you leave. It’s hard to take that step and put your crying child over the door. As a volunteer, your best option is to clear it with the parent first, then take that kiddo. So say, “Is it OK if I take Emily?” And then take that crying child and tell mama you’ll see her soon. Mom will be put at ease knowing you are confident with the little one and she’ll be able to step away from the door a little easier. The longer the interaction at the door is, the harder it will be for everyone. It’s not fun but helping Mom get away can help everyone say goodbye a little easier.

2. Ask the Parents

As you take that kid over the door, ask if there are any recommended soothing techniques. Does she have a pacifier? A lovey? Does he like to be pushed in a stroller? Is there a favorite toy? Does he loves Youtube videos of tractors? Moms and dads usually have some tricks up their sleeve that can help if you just know what they are. At our house, Amazing Grace can solve almost any woe. But you have to know to try it. So ask the experts!

3. Take a Deep Breath

Little ones know if you are stressed. Take a deep breath, resolve to help this kiddo, and begin that sway and bounce (if the child is young). Staying calm, swaying, bouncing, and singing are all great ways to help kids start to calm their own bodies. My two personal favorites are lunges (yes really!!) and making a shushing noise. It works with almost all little ones, in my experience.

3. Give Them a Job

Kids as young as one can be comforted by having a specific task. Let them help you fill water cups or pick up toys. Let a preschooler be the special helper and set out snack. Often if kids know their help is needed they forget to be upset and start to calm down and settle into the routine.

 

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4. Keep an Eye on the Clock

It’s smart to ask mom at the beginning how long is too long to cry. If you forget, though, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on how long your little friend has been sad. If they have been crying more than 10-15 minutes, most parents want a call. When a kid is crying, sometimes minutes seem like hours. So checking that clock at the beginning and keeping a mental note of the projected “call time” will help you gauge when to actually call.

5. Use the visual schedule

Each of our rooms have a visual schedule (Toddlers and Above). Recognizing and repeating a child’s feelings (“I see you’re upset because you miss mom. It’s hard to be away from our mommies and it can be sad but Mommy always comes back.”) and then going through the schedule and explaining at which point Mom will come back can really help kids know there is an ending to this hour with people they don’t know. Often just knowing the schedule is enough to calm them down.

Not all kids will settle down their first time. Sometimes it will take a few visits before a child feels safe. Some of my favorite preschoolers to see in the hallway were little ones who had a very hard  time adjusting and now love their time in Crossing Kids. Pray for the children in your classroom and especially the ones having the hardest time. What a great praise it will be when they finally feel safe and can stay with us and learn about Jesus!

 

 Posted by at 2:44 pm
Oct 292015
 

This is a question I often get as Programming Director or “that girl from large group” as your kids may say. Why do we use motions? We, as adults, don’t do synchronized motions for our worship, so shouldn’t we be teaching kids what real worship looks like?

While I think this is a very valid point, I want to teach kids what real worship feels like. Some kids may be able to earnestly engage during worship without motions but most children need that element to help them focus and think about what they are singing. So here are 3 BIG reasons why we use motions for worship in Crossing Kids.

Reason 1: It is in the Bible!preschool 4

Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,

making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

Psalm 149: 1-3

There are several references to dancing in the Bible as an act of worship. True, this kind of worship was probably more free-form than what we do in Large Group, but there is something really powerful about worshiping with your whole body if you embrace it. If you have ever felt the impulse to raise your arms or clap during worship then you know what I am talking about. God created us to move, so we can use that as a tool to help kids engage with what they are singing.

Reason 2: Moving Helps Kids Focus

I am sure you have seen the articles; kids sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs in school, teachers taking short “brain breaks” to get rowdy kids active, or even the latest story of a reading room with exercise bikes! Study after study has shown that children need to move and be active to help them focus. Whenever we can appropriately include movement into our curriculum it makes those times when kids do have to sit quietly and listen much more successful. Motions during worship time help make the lessons kids are learning on Sundays stick. Since we have already embraced a child’s need to move it is much easier to engage them when it is time to focus. Giving kids a chance to burn some energy helps cut down on behavior problems too!

Reason 3: Motions Help Kids Learn the Words

I saved this one for last, because it is one of the primary reasons that we use motions – to help kids learn the words! A lot of our kiddos are either non-readers, or beginner readers, and that means they might not be able to follow along with a lyrics PowerPoint like we can as adults. We put a lot of thought into our motions to make sure that they are both fun and helpful. This could mean bringing in some sign language that we pre-teach the kids. Other times it means having consistency with our motions from song to song, like always pointing up when we sing “God” or putting our hands on our heart when we sing the word “heart.” For a kindergartener who has not learned to read yet, or a second grader who can read well just not very quickly, having motions that go along with what we are singing helps them to understand what they are singing about.

One time we had a song where the lyrics were from scripture, particularly something that Jesus said. Every time we sang the word “I” we pointed up, like we usually do for “God” or “Christ” since in this song Jesus was the “I.” Even though we always introduced the song by telling kids that the words in the song were things that Jesus actually said, it was that motions that helped the kids make that connection. “I GET IT! WE ARE POINTING UP BECAUSE JESUS IS TALKING!” an elementary girl exclaimed one day.

Motions EL BW

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that we are trying to teach children what worship feels like. By engaging kids with motions we are taking the focus off of them and putting it on the songs. Many kids, especially our older elementary kids, are starting to enter that self-conscious phase. What do I do with my hands? Can my friends hear me singing? What if I am not a good singer? For lots of our kids the motions help them know what to do so that they can stop worrying and start worshiping. We want worship to be a joyful and gospel-centered time. We choose our songs and verses carefully to make sure that worship is focused on the gospel and big biblical truths. We use motions to help kids engage in a fun and developmentally appropriate way.

Oct 282015
 

_DSH0798There is something happens when a child hits 4th or 5th grade. They can focus on a task or activity longer, they can read more difficult text, they develop true friendships, they begin to smell (terribly), and many of them also develop attitudes that are less than desirable. But what if I told you it’s just a phase? Would you want to hurry through the phase, or join the kids in the here and now? Here in Crossing Kids we encourage you to do the latter, to leverage the time you have with your 4th and 5th graders each week. Here are some things to think about as you work with kids in this phase of their life.

 

 

 

 

The “I’ve got this” Phase

4th and 5th graders want to be seen as independent. They can pick out their own clothes, get their homework done on their own, and often make choices that lead them down the wrong path. Our job, as leaders, is to be there when they do mess up, and to treat them with grace in the midst of their failures. We can do this in two ways…

  1. Teach them that failure is part of the spiritual journey, and that the church is a place of grace upon return.
  2. Be more intentional about admitting our own messiness. We need to tell real stories about God that evoke a response to follow Jesus.

They wonder, “Do I have friends?”

This is the phase where kids begin to value friendships and peer approval. They want approval from adults too, which is where we come in as leaders because we can help them feel loved and accepted. We need to be ready by knowing what they like, and that comes from serving consistently. We can ask kids about…

  • Their interests
  • Sports they play
  • What special events they have coming up

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We need to engage their interests

According to the reThink group, we need to gauge kids interests, “so they can trust God’s character and experience God’s family.” We can do this by…

  • Connecting them with a faith community.
  • Praying with and for them.
  • Reading Bible stories and helping them answer questions that they have about God and the world around them.

What do our volunteers find to be important?

Erin, one of our 5th grade volunteers recognizes that this phase is a “tweener” phase. One of his favorite parts about volunteering is “how the kids and I build a personal relationship within our Sunday mornings together…They are figuring out that friends and relationships can be difficult at times, and it’s exciting to see them grow…physically, intellectually and spiritually.”

Kerry, another 5th grade volunteer, likes tying the lesson to a real life testimony. When he does this, he’s helping kids see how God works, and engaging them in real-life stories.

_DSH0521So whether we are helping kids view the church as a place of grace, connecting kids to a faith community like Erin, or engaging their interests like Kerry, we are working to leverage the phase that these kids are in now. It’s a phase that won’t last, and we don’t want to miss the chance to make an impact. 4th and 5th graders have an average of 468 weeks until graduation, and we want to make every week count.

 

*Most of this information was taken from the book, It’s Just a Phase so Don’t Miss It by Reggie Joiner & Kristen Ivy, and from the Orange Tour conference.

Oct 262015
 

preschool 3

Life for the preschooler can be confusing. It’s okay to throw a ball, but not a rock. You can hug your friend, but not squeeze his neck. Every day, a preschooler is learning new rules and discovering not only abilities, but also limits. The way you consistently meet their needs, engage their interests, and provide discipline will help them cultivate self-control.

You can help preschoolers learn when you ENGAGE THEIR SENSES.  You can capture their heart when you CULTIVATE SELF CONTROL. You coach their moral abilities when you DISCIPLINE CONSISTENTLY.

preschool 5

Ages three to four is the phase when ANYTHING CAN BE IMAGINED. I remember well the years when my daughter had an imaginary friend. That friend went everywhere with us. And we couldn’t sit on the couch where her friend was sitting. She would talk with her for hours in her room and tell us all about her.

preschool 2

It’s when EVERYTHING CAN BE A GAME. I also remember when my boys would love to make up games. We would sit for hours and play “zoo” with all their plastic and stuffed animals. My oldest would take his miniature football helmets and line them up and play his own game of football with them.

preschool 6

And one curious preschooler wants to know “WHY?” We get lots of questions at this age. Lots of “Why does it do that?”; “Why did she say that?” ; “Why is it blue?” You get the picture.

preschool 4

Here’s why some of our volunteers love working with the preschool age:

“I love volunteering in the preschool room because the children are just starting to comprehend Jesus and what he has done for us. Their excitement and curiosity to learn about our Savior at such a young age is so touching and personally inspiring in my life.  And on a side note my preschooler loves having me in class with him so I can share in all the exciting things he is learning about God on Sunday mornings.”

“They bring a light and joy through the door each and every Sunday. They remind me of child-like faith.”

“I have a preschool aged daughter, so it’s the age of child I can relate to. And they’re great!”

“I serve with the fours because there is never a dull moment with them.  I am more awake and alert for service after serving at 8:00 a.m. because of their energy and enthusiasm.  They are always willing to learn, ready to play, to sing and dance, and to be loved and show off their love.  The fours remind me to find joy in the smallest of things and it’s always a great way to start off my Sunday and begin my week.”

“Four-year-olds are great fun to interact with.  Prior to this age there’s not so much of a give and take in discussion.  Now I can sit down at a table or on the floor and actually have a conversation.  Even more fun than that is the fact that what they say is often NOT predictable. Once I chose to wear a pair of toile-print jeans and one of the kids blurted out, ‘You forgot to take your pajamas off!’ (Ask me if I’ve worn them since!)”

“I often find myself in awe of how much these children love the Lord and understand His word. In the presence of these children, I find myself chuckling and tearing up in their recognition of sin and God’s love for them.”

“They are so funny! They make my week. I enjoy seeing them get so happy about all the music and games.”

preschool 1

We have 780 weeks and counting with these preschoolers. IT’S JUST A PHASE…SO DON’T MISS IT!

*This info is taken from the book It’s Just a Phase – so Don’t Miss It by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy

Oct 222015
 

As a Crossing Kids volunteer and mother of two toddlers, I am learning firsthand the joys and hardships that come along with a growing and developing child. After reading Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson this past summer with our Crossing Kids Interns, I was able to better connect the message of the Gospel with raising and working with children through a grace-centered approach. I would like to share with you some applicable truths that have begun to transform my heart towards children.

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  1. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. No one is perfect at keeping the ‘law,’ especially a developing child trying to navigate a broken world. The only perfect record-keeper was Jesus Christ. None of us are ‘good’ and Give them Grace frankly states, Our children aren’t innately good, and we shouldn’t tell them that they are. But they are loved and if they truly believe that, his love will transform them.”
  2. Don’t confuse outward obedience with Christian righteousness. We would be missing the point of the Gospel if all we cared about was how children acted on the outside. We would never want our kids to think that their works would lead to salvation. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. No amount of goodness can lead to salvation.
  3. The ‘good’ children (who always follow the rules and want to people-please) can actually be the ones who need to hear the message of the Gospel more than the rule-breaking children. They may often struggle with pride, judging, and false idols. Their self-reliance may hinder them from not seeing their need for Jesus. Whereas the ‘bad’ children (who struggle openly with sin, temptations, and often identity issues), may be able to more easily see God’s grace and forgiveness during hard times and rest in the hope that He wants to give. After all, Jesus loved being around these types of people most.
  4. Salvation is of the Lord. Let us rest in the beautiful gift that our children’s salvation is not up to us and our ‘works’ with them. It isn’t about what we do right or wrong during our interactions. Let us rejoice in this burden being lifted. However, know that by serving in Crossing Kids, you are making yourself available for God to use you as a means to show children grace, forgiveness, and understanding.

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As I close, I do want to acknowledge that rules/law are pivotal in children’s lives. To ignore instruction, training and discipline would be irresponsible and apathetic. Giving grace to children involves keeping order and sanity in the Crossing Kids hallways, but by readjusting your perspective to a more gospel-centered approach, it can help show children (and all of us adults too!) more about God’s unwavering, grace-filled love for those who believe in Him.

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Oct 212015
 

_DSH0539What if I told you that what you do on Sunday mornings can make an impact in a kid’s future? During the month of October the Crossing Kids team wants to equip you do just that. According to Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, “A phase is a timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.” Throughout each phase we want to identify what makes a child tick, so today we are going to focus on students in the 2nd/3rd grade phase. Did you know that students in the 2nd/3rd grade phase have an average of 572 weeks left until High School Graduation? That’s 572 weeks that we have to engage them and make an impact.

 

 

 

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Before we can start to engage kids on Sunday mornings, it might be best to simply identify some things that make kids in the 2nd/3rd grade phase special. The reThink Group describes this phase like this, “the phase when everything is an adventure, nothing is impossible, and your enthusiastic kid thinks anything sounds like fun!”

  • They start to become funny
  • They are quick and eager learners
  • They are creative
  • They ask great questions
  • They wonder about the world around them

 

 

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By the time kids are in 2nd and 3rd grade, the excitement of school starts to lessen, the amount of homework increases, and the pressures to be the best start to form… so here are some ways to engage these young learners on Sunday mornings.

  • Get excited: Kids in this phase get excited when they see their leaders do the same. Show your enthusiasm for a game or activity and they will be more likely to join.
  • Give them space: 2nd/3rd graders are becoming more independent. Ask them if they want to teach a group of kids a game they are playing, or have one of them tell the others about what the lesson topic was the week before.
  • Let them explore: The best way to engage kids at this age is to let them be involved in hands on learning, to explore the world around them. Let them look up the Bible verses you plan to read use, or give them the chance to ask questions that they have about the current lesson topic.
  • Encourage them to be deeper thinkers: 2nd/3rd graders really begin to think deeper, and this is one of the things that Sherrill, one of our workshop teachers loves. Something that amazes Sherrill about this phase is, “how their belief can apply to their world and behaviors – keeping promises, obeying parents, praying, dealing with siblings and friends.”
  • Help them feel loved: One of our 3rd grade team leaders has learned “that a lot of times a hug or a pat on the back goes a lot further than reprimanding them during class.”

I had the opportunity to teach 2nd grade for two years, and 3rd grade for three. Working with kids in this phase was a joy, and it’s amazing how much I learned from them. I can only hope the same is true for those of you who work with kids in this phase. Thank you for making an impact on this group of young learners.  It’s just a phase…so don’t miss it!

 

Oct 202015
 

toddler 6

The Toddler age was my favorite age for each of my four kids. I loved the way they were learning new things every day. I adored the hugs and the “hold you’s” that I got with arms reaching up anxious to be held. So much happens in the life of a child in the phase from one to two years old. They explode in wonder and awe of everything they see, feel, touch and smell. They are constantly moving and exploring.

toddler 2

The phase of One to Two* is when nobody’s on time, everything’s a mess, and one eager toddler will insist I CAN DO IT!

toddler 4

Toddlers think like an artist. They blend reality with imagination and learn best through their senses.

toddler 7

Toddlers want to know AM I ABLE? The goal of this phase is to develop confidence.

toddler 1

As volunteers, we need to embrace their physical needs so they can know God’s love and meet God’s family.

toddler 8

Here’s what volunteers who serve with toddlers had to say about why they love this age:

Maybe not a very “spiritual” answer, but they are the cutest EVER!!

Because they love to snuggle on my lap while I read them a book.

I love the fact that they’re in transition from baby and each child is developing his or her own individuality.

Because I love to their joy and hugs!

I started serving in Crossing Kids as a way to give back to the church and make connections.  I signed up stating I didn’t really care where I was placed and while this statement still holds true today, after serving on the Toddler Blue Team for several months I can say (without reserve) that it has been rewarding in ways I would not have considered. Toddlers, they walk (but often stumble), they talk (but more often they cry or giggle), they exhibit so much of what it means to be un-escapably human.  Nearly every Sunday I am blessed to serve I am staunchly reminded by these youngsters that our time is brief, snot is real, pain is temporary, relationships matter and joy is often found in the simplest of things. May God continue to bless the Crossing, its ministry and the little ones we treasure.

toddler 3

884 WEEKS AND COUNTING….UNTIL THEY GRADUATE. IT’S JUST A PHASE…SO DON’T MISS IT.

*According to the ReThink Group and the book “It’s Just a Phase, So Don’t Miss It” by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, a phase is a time frame in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future. Most of this post is from this resource.

Oct 162015
 

 

 

 

Today I want to share a little about serving where your heart sings. I’m going to share a bit of my volunteer story but before I do I thought I’d share a few things I started…and promptly quit.

*Diet Soda...I drank it in college because all my friends did. I’d go to HyVee runs for diet Dr. Pepper but I truly hated the stuff. I graduated and vowed never to drink diet again. Full force Dr. Pepper for me from here on out.

*Wide leg jeans…Junior high was a time full of bad fashion choices but jeans with leg holes the size of jeep tires was really not the style for me.

*Knitting…I wanted it to be my thing. I tried. But after making three coaster-sized knitting samples I decided I didn’t have the drive to really make something worth the time.

*Bleach blonde hair…I thought blondes might really have more fun but when my hair started breaking off and falling out I gave it up for my brown roots.

*Cake Pop baking…I went through a phase where I spent hours molding cake into tiny balls. Turns out it’s a lot of work. Do you know what’s just as good? Cake.

 

Not everything we start is a good fit for our personality. Some things are good to try but aren’t best for us. Some things are worth evaluating for a better fit. That includes volunteering. We value every volunteer in Crossing Kids but I know some people are serving in a place that’s a perfect fit and others, well, not so much. So how do you know if you’re in the right spot and what do you do if you aren’t?

Start Somewhere 

In their book “Not Normal” Adam Duckworth and Sue Miller encourage potential volunteers to start somewhere. Even if it’s not where you think you’ll come alive, just start and see what happens. They ask readers to ask 3 Questions to Start:

  • What am I Good At?
  • What Do I Enjoy Doing?
  • What comes Naturally to Me?

In my professional experience in Crossing Kids, there’s been more than one time I’ve had to email or call someone to ask if I could move them to an area of greater need. I’m sure some of these people weren’t thrilled but they responded to the call. Personally, I’ve been on the other side of that call too. I’d like to share a few places I’ve served and what I learned, as well as how I knew I was in the right spot for me

Preschool

When I was 20 years old I heard Keith speak from the front of Rockbridge Auditorium about how we needed more people to serve in Crossing Kids and, like many of you, I filled out a little card that said “wherever needed.” Turns out, fours and fives were the place of most need. I served for two years with four and five year olds. I learned a lot about what they like (giggling, crawling on the floor, Disney shows), how they learn (giggling, sitting in laps, songs and stories), and how to motivate them (make them giggle, get on their level, give them donut holes. I kid. But seriously, donut holes). I made friends with other people in church. I liked serving in fours and fives and kept doing it. I don’t think I even knew it wasn’t what made me tick until I found the area that really was my sweet spot. Looking back, I needed these years to prepare me to lead the preschool ministry. I’m so glad I could shape young lives and I found they shaped me and my faith as well. But deep down I knew I wasn’t destined for 50 years of ministry to these kiddos. I needed to keep searching.

Multiage

Eric and I got a call one day. Being a young, fun couple who were team leaders at Kids Club, when The Crossing decided to open a new class in elementary for kids staying for two services, Eric and I became guinea pigs. We committed to give it a shot. For a year, we spent an hour with Kindergarteners through 4th graders who were sticking around for a second service. We played games, ate Cheez-Its, built relationships, watched more Veggie Tales than I can begin to describe to you, and played lots of games. My favorite? Silent ball. Because when you have 35 wide-eyed, energetic children, playing a game where you win by being quiet is really the perfect solution. I kid. But really. We served faithfully for a year. I have great memories of teaching kids Bible verses and listening to their stories. At the end of each day, though, I felt drained. Tired. I wanted to serve because I knew it was needed. And I wasn’t going to give up. But it definitely wasn’t life-giving for me. Still, those kids still come to me sometimes and ask me if I remember our times together in multi-age. Being a pastor’s kid I wanted to have a heart for kids who spent hour-upon-hour at church. And I gave it my all. Ultimately when there came a time to switch, I jumped.

Toddlers

I spent some time subbing in different classrooms, feeling out the waters in different rooms. I subbed once in the walkers room (now known as Toddler Blue) and fell head over heels in love. Tiny people. Who needed snuggles. And loved to be sung to. And who I could really make a difference with. I mean, you want to feel needed? Go into a room where kids start out crying and help them feel safe and comfortable. More importantly, convince their moms and dads they are safe and comfortable and church is a good place for them. I knew from that first Sunday this was my sweet spot. This is where I could use my gifts and talents to make a difference in our church body. The funny thing is, I’ve talked to so many people who tell stories of feeling drained and worn in the toddler class. They couldn’t listen to babies cry and wipe noses all day. But for me (and, my husband found out later it was for him, too), this was where God called us. He built us for snuggles and the fishy song and bubbles. I got asked to do a couple of other things before I really made toddlers my home but I pretty much knew it was where I would always feel the best.

So what’s the point?

Well, I think you can take away a few things…

 

  1. No matter where you’re serving, you’re making a difference.

Strive to live Colossians 3:23. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord and not for men.” As long as you are serving with all your heart, it’s worth it.

 

2. If you don’t love where you’re serving, keep your commitment but keep looking. 

I see many former early childhood volunteers serving in different areas now. They started with us. They kept their commitment. And when the time came, they found somewhere they loved more. Maybe you’re holding babies but you have the gift for welcoming new people and registration is your thing. Maybe you can’t hear one more 5th grader talk about Minecraft but reading books to preschoolers sounds like a blast. If it’s not bringing you life, try something else.

 

  1. If you are serving in a place that makes your heart sing, don’t take it for granted.

Once I found the toddlers, I assumed everyone knew it was the best place in the whole world. Man was I wrong. As a team leader, I had many, many volunteers come and go a semester later, saying they just weren’t a good fit for crying babies and changing diapers. They were wonderful volunteers but it wasn’t for them. I couldn’t understand. It’s the perfect spot!! For me. If you have found the spot that you are good at, that you enjoy doing, that comes naturally to you (as Duckworth and Miller describe), keep doing it. You’re right where you are supposed to be.

No matter where you are serving, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. We can’t make Crossing Kids go without the people who lead motions, hug babies, and listen to the not-so-funny jokes of 3rd graders.

 

And if you aren’t serving right now, why not? Start somewhere. What do you have to lose?

 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Oct 142015
 

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When I first graduated college, I taught Kindergarten. For four years I taught kids their letters and numbers, tied plenty of shoes, and laughed frequently with 5 and 6 year olds. One of my favorite things about the Kindergarten and 1st grade phase is how honest kids are, and how funny they can be. If you’ve ben lucky enough to work with this age group you know what I mean. For those who don’t, here are a few examples…

“Miss McClelland, we have cows at my house…we used to have pigs but we ate them.”

Student: “Miss McClelland I know how to spell be right back…BRB”

Student: “I like your hair.”
Me: “Thanks.”
Student: “I like all colors of gray.”

Not only do Kindergarten and 1st graders hold a special place in my heart, but they are special to our ministry. They make us laugh, make us cry, and remind us to let our guard down and have fun. Kids in this phase have an average of 676 weeks until graduation, so we want to leverage the time we spend with them on Sunday mornings. The challenge for volunteers working with kids might be knowing how to engage or interact with these small people. Here are some things to consider…

  • They thrive on routine. Kindergarten & 1st graders want to know what’s going to happen. You can help them by showing them the picture schedule hanging in your classroom, telling them about the activity, or introducing them to the workshop teacher.
  • They love to play. Invite them to put a puzzle together, read a book, or build with Legos.
  • They love to learn. Join a kid in this phase by teaching them something new. They would love to learn a new game, a new joke, or how to spell a word.
  • They want your attention. Ask them about what they are drawing, have them tell you about a vacation they took or a movie they saw, or thank them for a great morning.
  • They love you. Kindergarten & 1st graders are the best at giving hugs and rarely turn down piggy-back rides.

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Just like Kindergarten and 1st graders are special, so are the volunteers who work with them week in and week out. From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you. Thank you for passing out Z-Bars, for laughing at bad jokes, for tying shoes, for wiping tears, and for high fives. Thank you for being consistent, trustworthy people who are making an impact in the phase that these kids are in. After all it’s just a phase…so don’t miss it.