Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sunday school

Last year, Kate was slated to be in the youngest Sunday School class at our church. I wasn't too sure how she would do, but Kim, the teacher was delighted that Kate was to be included. I knew Kate would want/need me to stay with her which is how I got involved helping in the Age 2-4 Class. And they were a lively crowd to be involved with. Kim had her hands full as we worked to keep the children engaged and enjoying themselves, her own two year daughter included. I admired her calm response to all the chaotic moments and her gentle way with the children. Half way through the class year, she shared she was expecting again and that her husband, our Assistant Pastor, thought she should not take on another year of teaching. I quickly reassured her that he was right and that I would take on the lead teacher role, with herself or whoever could help. I panicked about fifty times this summer thinking, what did I sign myself up for?

One week before classes were scheduled to begin, I received a class roster with twelve(!) names of students, two of which were my own two girls. Gulp. My name was listed, along with Kim and another church friend, Vanessa, as the teachers. Kim was now six weeks away from her due date. I reassured her that she did not have to help at all before or after the baby was due if she was not interested or able. I talked with some of the other mamas at church who had children in the class and they all reassured me that they could take turns helping.
Vanessa committed to every week, although I wanted her to be able to skip if she needed or wanted to. We are now six weeks into the Sunday school year and there hasn't been a class time yet, where I haven't felt a momentary panic that the whole room could erupt into uncontrollable chaos with just the right spark. But Vanessa has been faithful and my Mom helped when she visited a few weeks back and two weeks ago, another Mama, Katie, stayed to help in Vanessa's place.

The children are well behaved and listen very intently as I recount a Bible story on "old fashioned" flannelgraph with as much story-telling gusto as I can muster from my imagination. We are going through the Old Testament stories as they provide many narratives and lessons of God's attributes to think about. I try not to water down the stories but to provide them with a faithful rendering that can remain in their minds throughout the week.

We begin with a snack, usually fruit and crackers of some variety. And I begin by reviewing what we talked about last time, trying to provide a transition to the current lesson. I have a small metal easel inherited from my grandfather that the flannelboard sits on in full view of the children seated at the tables. I have it covered with a flannel pillowcase that prevents them from seeing anything until I am ready to reveal the scene, usually with a grand flourish(smile). As I teach, I ask them predicting questions or perhaps an opportunity to tell what they already know about the story. Sometimes I get right answers, sometimes I get confused looks, but either way, they are eager to see what comes next on the board.
Recounting the lesson and discussing it together takes the bulk of our time, so we end with a coloring page and by listening to the same story retold on a cd set I bought years ago for Seth.

By the end of our listening time, the children have finished coloring and their parents are starting to arrive outside the half-door.
Not every class-time goes off without a hitch, however. Sometimes a little one remembers their Mom and Dad are not there and that makes them sad and tearful. Other times, someone takes a tumble and requires some extra care. And occasionally a quick trip to the bathroom in the classroom is in order. Thankfully I have a helping Mama to help tend to all these needs without having to stop the entire lesson. We have a wonderful time together.

Without fail, at some point during every week I think, did I really commit to this all year? But by Saturday evening(or even as late as Sunday morning, gasp) the creative juices are flowing and when I see the kids streaming in after morning worship, I am filled with such happiness to spend the next hour with them talking about God's word and enjoying their littleness.

(I apologize for the awkward angle of the photo but I took it quickly without wanting to draw too much attention to the camera and to get all the kids in the frame. Sorry if you get a crick in your neck!)

I have been trying to bring nature and beauty into the classroom for the children to enjoy hence the basket of apples and jars of marigolds. Plus we were talking about seeds(as part of reviewing our Thanksgiving Sunday lesson) and I wanted to have things that have seeds. I will have to get creative as winter takes its hold on the Canadian landscape. But I always try to think about the lesson through the scope of Charlotte Mason's ideas on teaching young children and bringing beauty to children is one of those ideas. And I enjoy the beauty too! :)


  1. You are doing such a wonderful job!

  2. Thank you for your encouragement, Niki. It couldn't happen with Vanessa and others to help. :)

  3. Actually... my neck was a bit hurt,... hahah.. what a great group of kids! they are blessed to have you.


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