Preparing Children For Transitions In A Faith Community

June 22, 2011

Inclusion Strategies

Schools out for the summer!
For almost every kid summer break brings joy and anticipation of summer plans.  For many parents they have just finished around of Individual educational plans (IEP’s) and they now have a map of where that child has been ascetically this past year and a map of what lays ahead.  For parents this brings anxiety, frustration and even a time of celebration as they look over the year.

Working on staff within the context of a church I too think through where our kids with special needs have been and dream about where they will engage and grow spiritually.  Often we prepare our kids for transitions and changes in all other areas of our lives but do we think through what a transition should look like within a faith community.  This year we worked hard at being intentional about how our children are transitioned.  Here are some steps we took as a church:

  1. Beginning in April, we had contact with each of our families who are involved in our early childhood program and our grade school program.  We asked :
  • What was the most significant thing that happened in your child’s life spiritually this year?
  • Did the classroom placement work for your child?
  • What would you like your child to learn during the next year?
  • What type of supports do you think your child will need to achieve these goals?

Many of the parents we talked to were overwhelmed by the gesture of us asking and could not believe we cared so much about their child’s wellbeing.  This process helps families feel as if they really belong within our church community.

  • We asked our teachers and buddies who had been working with these students what they had observed during the year and if they had any recommendations for the year to come.  The insights we gleaned for our volunteers were so valuable.  Volunteers remarked how much they enjoyed being a part of a team who wanted to know what they thought.
  • After we gathered information and set goals for our students our team sat and talked through what classroom teacher was going to help that particular child grow spiritually.
  • For some children we let them visit their new classrooms ahead of time.
  • Some of our families provided extra support such as behavioral therapist.

This sounds like a great plan but not always does it work well.  Not all churches have the resources to have classroom buddies and a self-contained classroom.  There are times when churches cannot accommodate all that a parent is asking.  We have learned as a team to gently share with families our goal is to help develop your child spiritually during his or her time in Sunday school.

Author:  Laura Lee Wright   Access TeamLeader Northland Church

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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