As I mentioned last week about the toddler group we run in our church and the support we have from the Manchester Diocese. I was thinking to shar, all the details I have received from Jo Haslam who works as a Growing Faith Early Years adviser in the Manchester Diocese.
Aim: To develop further the Church-run ‘Stay and Play' group.
In addition to providing a warm, safe place for families to meet and children to play, the plan would be:
- To become more missional in serving the children and parents.
- To grow some more leaders to support the group from within the church and the group itself.
- To introduce some intentionally Christian content while still being sensitive to the diverse community they serve.
- To buy some resources and toys to enhance what is already there.
- To set up the toys and equipment to encourage more focused play to support the children’s development.
To become more missional in serving children and parents.
As part of the session, the children are already offered a variety of healthy snacks with a drink, which is well received.
A suggestion would be to extend this to the parents by also offering them a drink and a snack - tea/coffee and toast. A tray of toast would be put out just after the start of a session along with a self-service coffee/tea station using hot water flasks. By purchasing silicone lids (see below) for the mugs, the parents could then enjoy a well-deserved hot drink safely around the children.
During this time Kathreen and other leaders could catch up with parents and offer pastoral support if appropriate and be a listening ear.
To grow some more leaders to support the group from within the church and the group itself.
Ideally, the group needs one or two more leaders. This would allow Kathreen or other clergy to play a more pastoral role in supporting the parents.
From within the church – make an appeal to the Sunday congregation and any other groups for additional support. As an Early Years Adviser, I would be happy to come along and support this and talk about the reasons why this is so important.
From within the group – create a list of tasks that need to be done or supported each week. Ask parents to sign up for a task on arrival. Alternatively, approach key adults within the group who are there regularly to support running the group and generally overseeing the activities going on.
To introduce some intentionally Christian content while still being sensitive to the diverse community they serve.
This would be a gentle process. Each half term there will be a theme based on a book divided up into weeks or a set of short stories. The story may be a Christian-themed story or a story that has had a Christian adaptation e.g. The Lion Inside has a verse added each week – ‘If I feel weak, If I feel strong, God is with me all day long.’ An example has been attached.
- Play with a craft or activity offered linking to the theme.
- Snack time – starting with a prayer of thanks.
- Storytime linked back to craft and Christian theme.
- Short prayer linked to the theme.
- Singing time – including a praise song.
- Goodbye, song.
There is a grant of £200 available to support the group in becoming more missional and intentionally Christian. It can be used for new toys and equipment to enhance what we already have, as well as books and things such as cup lids.
I will provide an example of play zoning to support and encourage more focused play to support children’s development.
The Diocesan Early Years Adviser will support for a period of 6 to 10 weeks to help implement and embed these suggestions. And provide further support with half termly themes ideas and advice after that. A program of 2 years’ worth of plans will be provided.
Please pray for me, Jo, and other volunteers so this plan brings glory to our God and it will be more beneficial to our Brunswick community.
Lots of love, thanks, and blessings.
Rev Kathreen Shabaz