Parent Support is essential

posted Jan 31, 2013, 10:27 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated Jan 31, 2013, 10:27 AM by in apropos ]
One of the things we have worked hard on in the last year or so is to be sure that our Christian Education Program is, for the main part, supported and encouraged by the parents of the children who attend.  But we also want to be open to the possibility that God may be calling you to work with children in church, even if you are not a parent with a child who is in the program right now.  I have previously written about the joys of working with our teenagers - this week I want to put a call out for people who might be interested in helping teach Godly Play to our youngest children. 
Godly Play is a wonderful curriculum that is used by the vast majority of Episcopal Churches mostly for children in the pre-school and young elementary age group (although lessons are being written for students up to 8th grade).  In Godly Play, stories from the bible, about the liturgy, and about the special celebrations of the year are taught with a set of "manipulatives", that is, 3D pieces that can be handled and moved around to tell the story.  Some of these are particularly evocative, such as the length of chain that is dropped into the Desert Box to signify that the people of God, having been exiled from Israel, where unable to return to their homeland.  Some are simple figures of the main characters.  The "Ten Best Ways" the story of the Ten Commandments, has tablets with the different commandments on them that fit together to make a heart.  The story is told quietly and simply, in silence.  Children are then asked "wondering" questions, such as "I wonder which bit of the story you liked best" and "I wonder who you would like to be in the story".  Next, children do "work", such as art, or playing with the different story sets. 
There are two people in the classroom; the Storyteller or teacher, and the Doorkeeper, or helper.  We absolutely welcome people who are interested in becoming storytellers, which requires some training, but at present the goal is to recruit more Doorkeepers so that our teachers are always supported in their teaching.  The primary role of the Doorkeepers is simply this: to BE PRESENT to the children.  The doorkeeper greets the children by name as they enter, and says goodbye when they leave (and in our church, will help bring them down to church.)  The doorkeeper shows the children how to sit quietly during the story, maybe helping a particular child who has difficulties concentrating.  The doorkeeper helps the teacher with the art project, or play with the sets, after the story.  In other words, the Doorkeeper does not have to learn anything or have any special knowledge - they just have to offer their support to both the teacher and the children. 
There are many blessings to this job.  Firstly, our younger children of Grace are delightful, and as well as enjoying their liveliness and affection, you will enjoy the wonderful theological insights that they offer during the class.  Also, I am sure that like me, you will learn something you didn't know before, whether from the story of the calendar of the church year, or of Abraham's journey through the desert in which he discovered that God is not in one place but everywhere.  We welcome anyone in the congregation, whether older, with children who have left home, or with grandchildren, or younger, and without children, to offer to be a doorkeeper just four times a year.  First we invite you to attend two sessions, to see if this is something you would like to commit to.  If you are interested, we ask you to complete the online Safe Church Training that all our teachers, leaders and vestry members have completed, and then sign up on our online scheduling site for dates that fit your schedule.  It's really very simple, but it would make a huge difference both to our Godly Play teachers, and to our young children - and, I'm confident, to you too.

Thank you!

Please talk to any of the following people about becoming
a Godly Play Doorkeeper:

Fiona Vidal-White, Susan Kling,
Leah Chango-Gassett, or Andree Saulnier