Workshop: Building Relationships With Children during Education Times For preschool and elementary leaders 1-1.5 hours needed
Supplies for workshop: food, drink, nametags & marker, paper & pen for notes, participant’s handout, prayer suggestions.
Review the importance of relationship building
Introduce ways to help relationships grow with your students
Take away one to two simple new ways to build relationships
Model relationship building during workshop
As participants arrive
Invite them to get refreshments and drink.
Introduce themselves to people they don’t know.
Workshop Content 1.Welcome leaders a.Introduce yourself b.Ask: Who was a primary person who shaped/developed your faith not including your parents? [Facilitator shares first. If group is small, take turns and let everyone share. If group is large, break into groups of 3-4 people.] c.Summarize the responses to the question. Often people answer that question with grandparents, family members, and education leaders. d.You, the leaders, are the people often mentioned as shaping the faith of children. It’s not just your Biblical knowledge or willing to teach that makes you memorable over time. The people we mentioned…modeled faith, lived their faith and were people who cared. They took time and listened to you. They formed a relationship that goes beyond the classroom. They challenged your spiritual growth. They encouraged you. They cared.
2.Why are relationships so important? a.It is Jesus’ model for building disciples. i.Read Acts 2: 42-47 to get a clear picture of Christians living out intentional relationships with God and one another. What is the picture? Have participant’s list ways that relationships were built. Include items below. 1.Joined together, devoted to apostle’s teaching, fellowship with one another, and sharing the Lord’s Supper. 2.They prayed together and miracles and wonders were being experienced. 3.All the believers were constantly meeting together. 4.They shared everything they had. Selling their own possessions, they gave to those in need. 5.They worshipped together daily, met in homes, shared meals, and had great joy and generosity. 6.And they added to their number daily those who were being saved. ii.What could that look like in your classroom? (I.E. snack time and talking about your week, greeting parents and giving them questions to continue faith conversations at home. Greet the children at worship. Connect during the week – especially if something important is happening that week. Add their ideas to the list.) 1.Is there an intentional time (or times) when your group builds relationship? If so, share. b.The Bible tells us we are to be relationship people. Read the following: Matthew 28: 18-20; John 13: 34-35; Matthew 22: 37-40; Genesis 2: 18. The 10 commandments – first three are relationship with God. Commandments 4 – 10 are our relationship with others. i.Try to answer some of these questions. 1.What phrases just out to you from any of these passages? 2.What is something new you learned or something you are hearing again about relationships? 3.How would you rate yourself as a relationship builder with your children? With the parents? [parents are mentioned since they are the primary people for faith formation/most time with the children; you won’t have the children in class without the parents] c.Research from Dr. Kara Powell says children need 5 adults for each child to nurture their faith development. That is 5 adults to 1 child (not counting the parents) - not what we usually think 1 adult for each 5 children. i.These adults mentor the child. Walk alongside them. Share their faith. This is you and your role. ii.FYI - Dr. Kara Powell’s book is Sticky Faith. Dr. Powell is the executive director of Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. She also serves as an advisor with Youth Specialties. d.Summary – why are relationships important? It is Jesus’s model. It’s Biblical and the research proves it nurtures faith development.
3.Guidelines for how to build a relationship a.Be prepared for your education time so you can greet children as they arrive. Say hello. i.Give them eye contact and welcome them. ii.If you remember something that was to happen in a child’s week - ask about it. (I.E. How did your game go? How was your visit to Chicago & what did you do?) b.Know the children’s names i.If you are bad with remembering names…what can you do? 1.Have nametags at door and train them to put them on as they arrive. 2.Play a game each week until you know their names. The game can include saying their name and their favorite _________ (food, sport, color, place to visit, etc.) 3.Other suggestions of get to know you games. c.Greet children in other settings (worship, lobby, at school events, etc.) Greet the parents also….you don’t want to be suspiciously over-friendly. d.Have fun and play with the children. Get involved in their activities. Laugh and enjoy your time together. Don’t just direct the activities…do the activities with the children. I.E. When you sing and do the motions to a song, do it with them! e.Break away from the curriculum or lesson if something surfaces that is more important. i.Example: While teaching class a child says he is going to have his tonsils out on Tuesday. Evidently he trusts you to share this personal information. What could you do? Stop & talk. The classmates may need to know the basic of what is to happen…let child share. This may be scary to the child. Recognize that many medical procedures seem scary before they happen. Don’t’ suggest it is scary…then you scare the child. After the brief discussion, pray as a whole group. You could (if it seem appropriate) to have the children gently put their hand on the child while they pray. Offer to visit the child after the surgery. ii.How to handle totally depends on the child, leader and the class. But, this is a relationship building time. It needs attention. f.Become real not just a teacher – but a friend. Be transparent. Share. (Be appropriate for the age of the children.) i.Examples: Share that you are a new grandma or grandpa. Share about a friend or family member that is sick or died. Talk about your feelings of sadness not the details of the sickness or death. Tell them you will have a surgery and ask them to pray for you. Tell them the name of a person you work with that doesn’t know Jesus. Ask them to pray for that person. ii.Do you talk about: 1.World events? 2.Pets that are sick or died? iii.What is appropriate for what ages? What is not appropriate? g.Be confidential. What is shared is not information for gossip. They shared with you and the class because they trust you. Keep their trust. You are modeling appropriate behavior for them also. i.Occasionally, a topic may need to be shared with your coordinator or church staff. I.E. Bobby is having his gall bladder out this week or Bobby says his grandmother (a member) is moving to the nursing home. h.Sharing is important but listening is equally as important. Listening requires time. Listening requires slowing down and giving a child the gift of your attention. i.Laughing together and crying together are signs of good relationships. j.Small Group time: What do you do to build relationships? Or, what have you seen other leaders do that built relationship? [First talk in small groups…then each group share as a large group. Write ideas on newsprint…..or a whiteboard.] These guidelines seem so simple and common sense but they often are neglected because there is X time to get the curriculum completed. Faith grows best in the context of a relationship. It’s not just head knowledge of the Bible stories but faith grows when it gets connected/rooted in a person’s heart.
4.Have fun. Laugh and play with the children! Have a couple games that take 1-3 minutes to use as fillers and just for fun. a.With leaders, stand and play “Heads or Tails”. i.One person is the caller. Everyone is standing. This person asks everyone to pick heads or tails. If you pick heads you put both hands on your head. If you pick tails, you put both hands on your bottom. No changing! Caller flips the coin and report how the coin lands… Heads or Tails. If the person was wrong. They are out & sit down. The game is repeated until only one person is left. They are the caller next time. b.Play “Holy Cow”. i.Review the basic 4 poses for a cow. Holy Cow = on knees with hands folded in front/kneeling prayer position. Live Cow = on all 4’s/on knees and hand like a cow standing. Sleeping cow = cow lying on its side. Dead cow = Legs up in the air. ii.Caller calls out a kind of cow and the children take that position. Dead cow is the favorite and causes much laughter. Be cautious of girls wearing a dress. iii.Caller can go slowly or fast. Always good for a couple minutes of giggles and fun. c.Make Birthdays Special i.Put the birthday child, on a chair, in the middle of the room and have all of the other children circle around them, either in chairs or on the floor. Go around the room and have each of the other children say something nice about the birthday child. You and any other adults in the room should do it as well (maybe even go first to show the others how to do it). Those words of affirmation from their peers and teachers will stay with them a lot longer than a gift will. They will remember those words and, hopefully, try to live up to them. Maybe those words will help them through a tough day at school or after a fight with a sibling. ii.To make it last even longer, you or another adult could write down all of the words of affirmation and send it home with them. I have put together a simple page that you can have printed and fill out when needed. If you have a large group, too large to be able to have each child say a word of affirmation, you could have the "It's _______ Birthday" page printed out and placed by the sign in station with markers near by. That way, as each person signs in, they can write a message to the birthday child. a.Small Group: What other games do you use to have fun? Share with large group.
5.Prayer: Prayer is about our relationship with our God and care for each other. a.As the class leader, pray for each child by name before they arrive. i.Example: teacher came to room early, sits in each chair and prays for the children by name. b.Stop the lesson and pray immediately if a topic is important. This models praying without ceasing. c.Let them pray before and/or after snack time. i.Bring in new food prayers. What are new prayers you can teach them? (also share with the parents) See prayer sheet attachment. d.Talk about what needs prayer - then pray as a group. i.I.E. Sit in a circle. Leader opens the prayer and person to right of leader prayers next. Go around the circle. If a child has no prayer, they pass. Leader closes off the prayer. e.Small group: What other ways have you prayed in your class? (talk in small group…..share with large group) f.Need new praying ideas try the book called Heart Ignite: 166 Engaging Prayer Experiences For All Ages by Lyle Griner and Diane Monroe. Publisher: Vibrant Faith Ministries. (Amazon has for about $9) g.We know that prayer is critical to our relationship with the heavenly Father…it also is critical in relationship building with your children. Praying during class time for a child or their concerns validates the importance of that child. It models your faith in action. 6.Follow up: Follow Up means you care. Care enough to make a connection. If a child is gone one week, do you call or email? Do you wait until they have been gone two weeks? How often is often enough to show you care – but not too often to be a nuisance? a.Follow up requires attention to detail such as: i.Is this a blended family? If so, is the child absent every other week when they are with the other parent? Many families have a pattern. ii.Sometimes the children will say they are going on vacation…or visiting family and out of town. iii.Sometimes you know nothing but the child is gone. b.FACT: “regular attendance” for most people is being in church (worship/education) twice a month. You and I may not agree… but that is where the numbers shift out. c.How would you connect with a child who has been absent? Postcard, email to parent, Facebook parent, card to child, phone call, Twitter. d.Talk in your small group or offer suggestions as a whole group for ways to connect. 7.Summary: a.Having a relationship with a few close people is Jesus’s model of making disciples. Jesus had 12 disciples and was especially close to 3. The Bible tells us we are to be people in relationship. Children need 5 faithful adults to help mentor and shape their lives. As leader’s we are given this opportunity to nurture the faith of children and their families. b.Many of the elements to relationship building seem simple and uncomplicated. They just take being intentional about talking, listening, playing, praying and following up when child’s are absent. c.Close with prayer. i.If time is short, facilitator prays for the whole group. ii.If time allows, ask everyone to be prepared to offer a short prayer. They may pray for a concern with being relational. They could lift up concerns for their children or their family. The facilitator starts the prayer and everyone offers their pray. When the room is quiet the facilitator ends the prayer. 1.Option two: Facilitator starts and ends the prayer. Everyone present says a single word of prayer. Popcorn style. The word may be related to making the change to being relational such as intentional, listen, slow down, play, welcome. Or, the word may be a person’s name who is in need of prayer. Words may be spoken at the same time…not to worry. God hears all prayers.