4 Ways To Connect With Your Kid’s Teacher

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Do you remember your first grade teacher? I loved mine. I remember how Ms. Parker erased the board from left to right every day and then wrote the new date in the top right hand corner. I also remember how she showed me how to use a ruler because I was sick on the day she taught everyone else. She knelt near my desk and she helped me measure my arm and my folder and my snack.

Now that our oldest is in school, I’m beginning to understand the crazy reality of widening his circle. I know his teachers will spend many of the quality hours of his week guiding and molding him, so I want our partnership with those teachers to be strong.

And because I’ve been a teacher longer than I’ve been a parent, I’m clinging to a few things I hope to remember now that I’m on the other side of the playground fence.

1 – MAKE IT PERSONAL

I know the hardest time to get to know a teacher is when my kid needs help or is in trouble. I want to make it a point to befriend his teachers as soon as possible. Ask them questions about their classroom and their life. Connect with them however I can and as early as I can. Show them that I am interested in them and what they do to love and serve my child every day. That way, when there’s a bump in the road, my relationship is strong enough for honesty and compassion on both sides.

2 – MODEL RESPECT

As our kids grow in their understanding of authority, I know they’ll look to us to learn how to respond when they’re faced with conflict. I feel our disrespect of our child’s teachers will breed their future disrespect of us and other authorities in their life. I want to encourage and model respect, and help them learn from the decisions their teachers make, good and bad.

3 – GIVE

I remember being so touched that a mom randomly brought me new Expo markers that I called her at home to thank her. I want to give my time. My enthusiasm. My old magazines. It doesn’t matter. I know I want to show up and show my kid’s teachers I’m willing to support their every-day, super-tough work.

4 – PRAY

I think I realized how much I like praying on the first day I watched that school bus drive away from our street. Talking to God about my kids’ day is a great way to relieve a lot of anxiety about the things I can’t control . . . and a great way to thank Him for the inevitable and wonderful ways their circles are widening.

-Natalie Kitchen

A Checklist for a Successful School Year

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It may be hard to believe, but summer is almost over! Maybe that fact makes you want to burst into tears—alarm clocks, homework, and bus stops. Or maybe it makes you want to throw a huge party—no kids saying, “I’m bored!” or begging to go to the pool. Probably for most of us, it’s a mixture of both.

Either way, we want to help make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your family! Below is a checklist you can use as a guide to prepare for the coming school year.

1. ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.

Waking up early after weeks of sleeping in is no fun for anyone. Before school starts, start waking up your family and sending them to bed at the same time you will during the school year. This will save a ton of yawns that rst week back.

 2. CREATE A WEEKLY CHECK-IN.

Choose a time during the weekend to huddle around a calendar with your family. Maybe it’s Sunday night after dinner—everyone shares their plans for the week and discusses any changes from the regular routine. Who has practice? Who has carpool duty? Who has a doctor’s appointment?

3. CREATE A RHYTHM OF TABLE CONVERSATION.

Try to eat dinner together as many times a week as possible. Establish a habit of asking each other, “What was the best part of your day?” and “What was your least favorite part?”

4. CHOOSE A DESIGNATED SPACE FOR DAILY SUPPLIES.

Where will the book bags go? Shoes? Lunch boxes? Grab a few hooks and a couple of baskets and create a go-to spot for collecting items your kids will take with them every day. This will help you get out the door faster and eliminate the potential for frustration.

5. SET UP A DISTRACTION-FREE HOMEWORK AREA.

Determine what the rules about homework are. Will you require your student to begin their homework immediately? Give them an hour of downtime? Allow them to wait until after dinner? Make a plan for whatever works best for your family. Then, create an area free of TVs, gaming systems, clutter, etc.

6. TALK IT OUT.

Starting a new school year can give a kid of any age anxiety. Take your child out to lunch or dinner before the rst day of school and talk about the upcoming year. Encourage them. Let them ask questions. Remind them of their wins last year, and discuss your expectations for the new school year. Make sure they know you’re praying for them.

7. REACH OUT TO YOUR STUDENT’S TEACHER.

This is especially helpful for parents of younger students. Send in some supplies—tissues or markers or hand sanitizer—and attach a note that introduces you and your kid. Offer your help and encouragement. Ask them what their favorite treat
is, and then surprise them with it a few times in the year.

8. START EACH DAY RIGHT.

The best way to start your kid’s day of school
is with some daily encouragement. Send them off to school with words that ll their heart.
» “I’ve already been praying for you this morning.”
» “You look beautiful/handsome/sharp this morning!”
» “I love starting my day with you!”

9.  CREATE CLEAR PARAMETERS.

Be clear and consistent with the rules about homework and bedtimes and the consequences for not following them. De ne a reward system, whether it’s extra screen time or a later curfew.

10. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.

Gather your family (and other families, if you want!) and pray for the new school year. Reassure your child that you’ll continue to pray for them as the upcoming year progresses.

-Holly Crawshaw

How to Talk to Your Kids About Faith

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I remember having a lot of questions about faith as a kid. I mean a lot. I didn’t always feel comfortable asking my parents or my pastor about them, so I wrote them down in a journal. There were endless questions from the meaning of life and the existence of God to if it was okay to listen to New Kids on the Block.

One of the biggest questions I had was, “What is faith?” The biblical answer I heard from the pulpit – “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1) – felt so ethereal it was of no earthly good to me – until I really needed it.

I remember the day I found out something I had been praying for was not going to happen. My faith was crushed to the core. For the first time in my short life I thought I had really believed and prayed with faith, so when faith failed me, I questioned myself and God. I thought maybe there was something faulty with the way I prayed, or faulty with faith itself. My faith was negatively impacted because I didn’t understand its nature.

As a mom, I want my girls to grow up feeling comfortable asking questions, and sometimes that means facilitating the conversation. Here are a few points I shared with my 6 year old that perhaps you could use to talk to your kids about faith as well.

1. Faith has more than one meaning.

Faith can mean the act of believing or the belief itself. Sometimes when people say “faith” they mean it like “what you believe in” (We are Christians and believe Jesus loves us, died for our sins and wants us to live our lives in ways that help other people see His love through us), and sometimes they mean it like how we believe for something to happen because we pray (The Bible says faith is what helps us believe and pray for something although we’re not sure it will). That’s the kind of faith we’re talking about here.

2. Faith and doubt go hand-in-hand.

Faith and doubt (which means when you don’t believe in or aren’t sure about something) are related. If you had no doubts you’d have no reason to have faith. Faith is what helps you believe in God, and His goodness, even when bad things happen. Some people say you should feed your faith and not your fears. By thinking about things that help our faith grow and get stronger, we think less about things we’re scared or worried about.

3. Questions are okay, even good.

Don’t be afraid of having questions, especially about things that you don’t understand. Asking questions helps you learn and helps you feel more confident about what you believe in. But sometimes questions are hard even for adults to answer, and when you don’t get the answers you need, faith really comes in handy.

4. Faith is always there for you, like a good friend, your mom or dad, or favorite stuffed animal.

Faith is what you can use when you’re not sure things are going to turn out the way you think they should. You can pray and say, Jesus, I don’t know or understand why this is happening, but I’m going to use my faith in You and trust that everything’s going to be all right.

Follow up conversations about faith in little ways that will reinforce the concept. I like to write paraphrased scriptures on craft sticks and include them in my first-grader’s lunch box. You could also write them on napkins or sticky notes and leave them in conspicuous places for them to discover. My daughter suggests hiding them and making it a game to find them throughout the house.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Faith is being sure what we hope for will happen. (Hebrews 11:1)
  • Listening to stories about Jesus can help our faith grow. (Romans 10:17)
  • Jesus says even a little bit of faith is strong enough to make big things happen. (Matthew 17:20)
  • When we have faith and believe in God, it pleases Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
  • God has given everyone a little bit of faith. (Romans 12:3)
  • Every child of God can use faith to overcome bad things. (1 John 5:4)
  • God rewards us when we use faith. (1 Samuel 26:23)
  • When we believe in Jesus, invite Him to erase our sins and live the way He asks us to, we are called children of God. (John 1:12)
  • We use faith to believe for and help good things to happen to others. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Everyone struggles to “keep the faith.” As parents, you shouldn’t shy away from talking about faith with your kids just because you have doubts and questions of your own. Being transparent about how you felt as a child, or even now, reassures them their feelings are normal. Faith is what stabilizes our belief and anchors us to truth. Join your kids in the journey toward nurturing a childlike faith. It’s a powerful thing indeed.

-Cara Davis

Passing Down Patience

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Let’s begin with a confession; patience is a virtue I aspire to, not one I’ve mastered. I hate to wait, I hate to wait in line, I hate to wait for people, and I hate to wait for a surprise. When I was a child I became a master at poking undetectable holes in my Christmas presents so I wouldn’t have to wait to find out what was inside. (Many years later I discovered my mom knew I poked holes in the presents, she just gave up caring.) This reluctance to wait has never worked out well for me; I didn’t want to wait on marriage, so I talked my fiancé into getting hitched when we were 19 and 20; I didn’t want to wait for graduation, so I dropped out of college after my sophomore year; (I eventually earned my undergraduate degree almost 15 after high school.) I didn’t want to wait on technology, so I bought a computer that became obsolete on the drive home from the store. If there was a prize for impatience I would be the first in line because I just don’t have time to wait around.

As a grandfather, however, I am learning the value of waiting. Playing board games, it can take the five-year-old five minutes to count the spaces to move her token. When the seven-year-old “helps” with the dishes it often takes twice as long to get the table cleared and everything in the dishwasher. Small nations can rise and fall in the time it takes to put the baby down for his nap. But it is in these small moments, these moments spent waiting on the big moments, that I truly see God at work. I see the neurons firing as the five-year-old perfects her counting, I hear the beginnings of leadership as the seven-year-old shares her day while almost rinsing the dishes, and I feel my heart being knit together with my grandson as I feed him his bottle before he goes to bed. I am learning patience in the forced pauses of caring for the grandkids. I am learning to look for God in a broken schedule.

How can we help our children to learn this lesson of the beauty of waiting before they are in their fifties like me? I think it might be in pointing out the beauty we find while we wait. I question the value of trying to convince a child the value of delayed gratification, but I wonder what he could learn if we helped him experience the tingle of anticipation. Rather than constantly distracting our children with devices and entertainment I wonder if we can help them find meaning in the mundane, satisfaction in the torture we call waiting.

I suspect the key to helping our children learn the value of patience is we have to first learn the lesson ourselves. What if this week, instead of sighing and tapping and muttering and pacing while we wait, we sit and listen and look for God at work in the cracks that appear in our schedule? What if we recognize that it is almost always in the waiting that we discover the true value of the gift of time? The write Ann Voskamp says it like this:

“What if I laid down efforts and expectations, perfectionism and performance?

What if I breathed deep and simply waited with arms and heart and eyes wide open?”

Think about it for a while, I’ll wait right here.

-Geoff Surratt

What I’ve Learned from Working in Children’s Ministry

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Kids. Wow. Those are some amazing little creatures. One of my greatest joys on Saturday evenings, and Sunday mornings is to watch those little faces light up when the doors to Discovery Kids are pushed open. As I wander the halls during service, I get the privilege of looking into classrooms and observing what is going on. While the Chaos room (2nd-4th grade), may have the reputation of having the most substantial curriculum and hearty teachings, there is not one classroom that comes in second place.

If I have learned anything from working in children’s ministry, it is that every single room, child, and volunteer are extremely special and vital to our program. Just a few weeks ago, I was in the one year old room, when a precious little boy had a cup of Goldfish that he decided to share with every single child. He walked around, with a giant grin on his face, passing out a single Goldfish to each kid. While that may seem minute, it made me take a step back and realize why we do what we do every week. While this little one year old may not be reciting Bible verses yet, he is learning to love and care for others, just as Jesus did, and nothing could be more fulfilling to me.

On another note, there is so much more to learn from working in children’s ministry. For instance, you have to learn to expect the unexpected moments. There will be countless loose cannons throughout your volunteering- and I don’t just mean the children. You will not always be able to control how the class with shape up, who will attend, or how the students will respond.  You can always aim high by preparing well, but the end result is always up to God. As the old saying goes, the farmer sows his seed and waters his plants, and then he leaves the rest to God. That’s pretty much how working with kids goes.

One thing to look forward to, and keep an open mind to, is that YOU can always learn something from THEM. We come into this thinking that we are the teachers- and we are- but there has not been a single week that I have not taken something away from working with these kids. From sharing, or being nice to someone who may not seem like they deserve it- keep your eyes, and heart open- kids have a way of teaching you things that you never knew.

So, I have come to the conclusion that children’s ministry is not second-rate ministry. We are bringing up the next generation, in hopes that they will be strong, caring, compassionate, Jesus-loving people. We get trusted with God’s precious children each weekend, and I think that is pretty special! Whether it is the third grader that we get to walk beside in making a decision to follow Jesus, or the 7-month-old baby that we just get to hold and love on for an hour, it is all valued and wonderful in the eyes of God.  

-Presley

 

The Ultimate Sacrifice

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Around Easter every year, we start to think about how we’re going to talk to our kids about Jesus’ death – which can be a tricky topic for little kids that most people like to skirt around. I get it; it is not an easy one. Who wants to talk to kids about torture or gruesome death?

Talking about Jesus’ death isn’t really all that bad, I actually invite the conversation. That may seem crazy, but Jesus’ death was a gift. His death was the fulfillment of a before-time-began plan and it wasn’t scary or gross, it was beautiful.

It was a perfect example of love and sacrifice, but how do we explain that to our preschoolers and elementary school kids? How do we tell them that there is more to it than the Easter Bunny and basketball full of goodies. I think there are two important things to focus on when you approach Jesus’ death with kids.

Sacrifice

Kids might not understand death but they get sacrifice. For kids, giving up a favorite toy is as hard as anything they’ve ever done. Sharing, stopping, or slowing down can be a complete act of will and self-control.

Talk to your kids about the hard things they’ve had to do, the times it’s been difficult for them to obey. Jesus was quick to obey His Father, to empty himself of all his rights and die for us.

In Philippians 2, Paul tells us that Jesus emptied Himself out to become a man and obey His father. 

To help your kids understand sacrifice here is a fun and unique activity:

Get two glasses, and put about a ½ cup of water in each. Add about a tablespoon of bleach in one of them (don’t show your kids). Get some food coloring, and let your kids put a few drops in the cup without bleach. Explain that our sins get into everything and cover ALL of us (we are the water). But with Jesus all of that has been removed, because of His sacrifice, only He can clean away our sin. Explain that Jesus is the clean and clear water. Now pour the (bleach) water into the colored water cup. The bleach will clear it up and remove the color. Use this to talk about how the demonstration shows us that Jesus took away all of our sin because of his sacrifice.

Life

The best part about the story of Jesus’ death is not that He died, but that He came back to life!

When you’re talking to your kids about Jesus’ death, stay on it for a brief amount of time, then move onto another topic. We see this death-to-life all around us so it’s easy to make comparisons like seeds which are buried in the ground to bring new fruit, dead trees that sprout beautiful blooms, and winter’s cold which leads to fresh spring! 

Before we admire daffodils and lilies bloom, we have to go through winter and before we celebrate Easter Sunday, we have to get to Good Friday first.

Children don’t need all the gory details about death. The Bible doesn’t even spend very long on the crucifixion because the purpose of talking about Jesus’ death is so that we can see the miracle of new life.

Jesus’ death was a pre-planned act of love and sacrifice, one that would end in life so surprising and amazing that it overshadows the gruesomeness of death–and even defeats death itself. Let’s point our kids to Jesus’ loving sacrifice and His amazing resurrection life this Easter!

-Christy King

What My 5-Year-Old Taught Me in My Darkest Moment

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Recently, my husband and I welcomed our third daughter, Sailor. I can’t tell you how excited I was to be pregnant—and even more excited to have another girl! (One day I’ll write a blog post about people who say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry you didn’t get your boy!’)

My pregnancy wasn’t easy. I was sick, renovating a house, had a new job, and had abnormal test results early on. I saw a specialist my entire pregnancy, and we weren’t sure Sailor would be completely healthy until she was born.

But she was! She was perfect!

There’s so much I want to share about the weeks leading up to and following Sailor’s birth, but for now I’ll just say that after she was born, I experienced anxiety on levels that I had never experienced.

Cue the point of this blog: If you’ve read anything I’ve written about our second daughter, Ezzy, you know that while she’s 1/3 of our children, she’s always required 2/3 of our attention.

Homegirl is sky high maintenance.

But she’s also incredibly special. Recently, she taught me a lesson so powerful, I had to write about it.

One thing I did after I had each of my children was to create email addresses for them. I send them random emails and pictures periodically, and plan to give them access to their accounts at some point when they’re older. (Please don’t be impressed by this practice. This is the lazy parent’s version of scrapbooking.)

Here’s the email I sent Ezzy. I hope it encourages you, if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression—or just the day-to-day demands of parenting that can be so tough.

Ezzy,

Hey, sweet girl. I wanted to tell you about something incredible that happened today.

You won your first ever spelling bee! You’re only in pre-k! My little genius!

But the part I’m most proud of, is that you were TERRIFIED to do it. You didn’t want to. You were anxious all night. And this morning you even cried about it. I told you that you didn’t have to do it. Every kid had a choice. But you said, “I wanna twy.”

(You still can’t pronounce your “Rs” – and I honestly hope you never do. Okay. Maybe when you’re like, 10. But until then …)

I won’t lie – I was nervous. We had practiced the night before, and when I asked you to spell ‘cat,’ you looked at me like I was speaking Latin.

But Ezzy, you were so brave. I watched in complete awe (and nausea) as you made it through 6 long rounds. You walked up to that microphone with your side ponytail, your high-tops, and school uniform, and you spelled each word carefully and thoughtfully like you’d been doing spelling bees your whole dang life.

WHAT?

You are amazing. I learn from you every day. Today I learned that you can win, even when you’re terrified.

But more importantly, I learned that failure is not nearly as scary as not trying.

There’s another thing.

I also wanted you to know what today did for me. (Selfishly.) You see, Mama has been going through a really hard time. The only way to describe it is to say that every second of every day feels like a chore. It feels like being the only person on a ship lost at sea. It feels like every step you take is uphill. One day, I’ll tell you more about it.

When you won that spelling bee today, it was one of the first purely joyful moments I’ve had in a while. It was like stepping into the sunshine after being in the shade far too long.

Thank you for trying even when you were scared. If you can try when you’re terrified, so can I. And I will try every day because of you – because staying anxious and worried and tired is a far scarier prospect than trying to fight for joy.
I learned that from you.

Thank you.

And please, please, please, never lose the courage to ‘twy.’

Love,
Mama

So, parents. What are you struggling to try? Trying to …

Trust?
Be vulnerable?
Let your kids grow up?
Take care of yourself?
Lower your expectations?

-Holly Crawshaw

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!

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Merry Christmas everyone! Christmas is almost here and you know what that means? Santa Claus is coming to DCC!!! This weekend, December 16th and 17th, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be taking pictures with all your kiddos at DCC on the West side of the lobby! Be sure to bring your phone or camera to get those photos! The elves will be spreading the cheer, and the gingerbread girls will help you get through the line! AND Santa will be giving out candy canes after each picture!

 

Letters for Santa can still be filled out and placed in his mailbox through Christmas Eve! The table with the letters and mailbox have been moved over to the center of the West side of the lobby! Get those letters in before Christmas day!

 

The rest of the site is being updated to January since Kids Area is closed for the rest of December, so if you click on over to Parent or Teacher Resources you’ll be looking at January ( a glimpse into the future, how exciting)! Enjoy your Christmas with your family and friends and have a Happy New Year!

New Discovery Kids Team Member!

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We have a new member of the Discovery Kids Team! Rebecca Crofoot is our new Production Coordinator for Discovery Kids! Rebecca has volunteered in our hallway for several years now, and is incredibly reliable! Not only that, but she has a love for these kids that is above and beyond!

Rebecca will be helping our production team in Chaos, as well as uploading our weekly videos and curriculum content! But don’t worry, you’ll still see her plenty in the hallway and up at the New Kids desk, too!

We are so excited to have her officially on the team! Please help us welcome Rebecca!!!

Rebecca- Why I Chose Children’s Ministry

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God has always had a calling on my heart to help others. In my teen years I started volunteering at a nursing home. I grew and learned so much that summer in discovering the joys of a servant’s heart. Some of my best days helping at the nursing home, I would go visit with residents that did not have family or friends to come see them. The smiles on their faces when I stopped by to ask them how their day was going and simply listen to their stories was priceless. The wisdom we can gain from our elders is amazing if we only take the time to stop and listen.

The following summer I volunteered at the YMCA working in the Kids area as well as teaching swimming lessons. This was a whole different and wonderful experience, changing from senior care to children. With the seniors, they taught me so much wisdom, while working with children always inspired me to keep asking questions and to never stop learning. With children they are ever-changing, always absorbing from their surroundings, learning new things and growing mentally and physically every day. We must nurture our young minds—they are our future.

I have been serving with Discovery Kids, in Infants and then as a hallway leader, for the past couple of years. I have loved my time working with the children, the staff and the other volunteers. When an opportunity to join the Discovery Kids Team was discussed I knew that I could not ask for a more fulfilling opportunity!!