Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday School

So yesterday Lil J began Sunday School at church.  I was both excited & nervous at the same time.  The last time he transitioned it didn't go over as well as I had expected.  But this time went really great, at least the first day did.

First allow me to go back to the beginning of his time in church.  At the last church we were attending he started in the nursery when he was 6 days old.  The system at that church was simple.  There were two nurseries: one for non-walkers & one for walkers.  So you started in the non-walker nursery & as soon as the child began to walk they graduated to the next nursery.  They stayed in the next nursery until either age 2 or 3, I can't remember now.  And at that point they moved to Sunday school.  We left that church when Lil J was 11 months, just a week or two before he began walking, so we never left that first non-walking nursery.  I remember being surprised at how much they adored Lil J there.  The gals working in there would almost fight over who got to hold him.  And when we picked him up they would sometimes tell us sadly that they didn't get to hold him at all, some new person in the nursery grabbed him & held onto him the whole time.  I often watched how the workers interacted with other parents, to see if they told EVERYONE how much they adored their child, but they didn't.  I haven't been to a lot of churches so I don't know how the system usually goes, but at this church they required a bottle (or sippy) & a diaper.  And they were always really good about getting the diaper changed prior to any leaks.  I think the only day with them that he didn't get changed was the day we did his dedication. We took him there late because of the dedication & I guess it threw off their schedule.  And he wasn't changed & was totally soaked through when we picked him up. 

So when Lil J was 11 months old we visited a couple of other churches, looking for a new church home. 

At one they had the nurseries labled waddlers & walkers, or something cute like that.  He was only there once, but the system didn't seem as efficient to me as at our previous church.  They asked for the diaper bag but he was never changed nor was he given a bottle while being there.  I don't know if they just had an off day or what, especially since we were only there once.  I remember feeling a bit uneasy because at this church they don't do background checks & fingerprinting on nursery working, which they did at our previous church.

We visited one other church, but I don't remember putting him in the nursery there at all.  I do remember stopping & talking with the nursery workers & being pleased that they did background checks & fingerprinting on all nursery workers.  I'm thinking he must've stayed with my stepdaughter that day.  We probably left him because we were unsure of whether or not they did the background checks & fingerprinting, but I really can't remember for sure.

And then we visited the church that we chose to stay at & are still currently at.  They have a reputation for having a tremendous children's ministry.  And we love the pastor (always talking about current events, politics, govt, voting, etc along with preaching book by book through the Bible).  And we were thrilled to find that they also did background checks & fingerprinting on all nursery workers.  We couldn't even enter the nursery area to view it without going through some sort of screening process.  We felt very good about that.  So he was 11 months at this time & he entered the very first nursery level, which they called the Lambs.  I have to admit that I felt like the system of what room/level they were placed in was quite confusing.  It went by a range of birthdays, rather than set ages.  And so sometimes people who were new to the church would stop us & ask what nursery they should put their children in & we would have to shrug & say it was a weird system that goes by birthdays & if their kid didn't have a birthday close to Lil J then we just plain didn't know & couldn't help them.  I was very surprised to find that the people working in this nursery adored Lil J just like our last church had.  And just like our last church I often watched the workers interaction with others to see if they just acted like that about ALL the kids, but they didn't. 

So about a year later he graduated up to the cubs along with a big group of kids in that birthday range.  At that time the group he was in ended with April 2009.  So that meant that he was among the youngest of the group of kids.  Somewhere while he was in this group they revised the whole system of the nursery.  They said they had a lot of kids & needed to make it work better by making some changes.  During this process they changed the birthday ranges & he is now at the beginning, it goes from April 2009 to July 2009.  So he is now among the oldest of his group.  And they dropped the cute names: Lambs, Cubs, etc.  They simply told you what room number your child was assigned to.  On the first day of taking him to this new room I was pretty excited when I saw it.  They did have toys & a slide, but they also had a few desks & I could see that they did coloring.  I was excited for Lil J to color.  I felt like we got off to a really rough start though with this classroom.  This was the first time the workers were not instantly in love with my son.  They seemed inconvenienced by him.  They seemed bothered by his food allergies (the other rooms had not been feeding the kids so it wasn't an issue).  They rarely changed his diaper & I often got him back soaked.  And they would tell me he couldn't color because while the other kids colored Lil J would be trying to eat the crayon.  :(   For quite some time, or at least it felt that way, maybe a month, maybe more, I really can't recall, they just seemed bothered by him, inconvenienced.  It made me a bit sad.  This was also the nursery that he was scratched up in by the kid who always has long finger nails.  But as time went on he learned to color, they started getting foods that he was able to eat & wasn't allergic to, they made a stipulation that the kid with long fingernails had to have a parent present & they also put him in another classroom, away from Lil J.  When I started potty training him it seemed that once again he was the problem child for them.  Although looking back there was actually only one worker that complained about him in regards to potty training.  But little by little, as time passed, they did fall in love with Lil J, perhaps with the exception of the lady who often complained in regards to the potty training.  By the time we were notified that he was moving up again I felt sad.  He really liked these workers, he knew them & had bonded with them in a way.  One week they were running late & we were waiting a long time to be able to drop him off.  The lady running the room next to us offered to take him & transfer him over when they arrived.  We were fine with that, but Lil J was having a full melt down.  I don't believe he's ever had any sort of interaction with this woman, it was simply the fact that he didn't know her.  And just seconds later one of the workers arrived & Lil J quickly regained his composure & was excited to go with her. 

So last week hubby & I thanked them so much & told them how sad we were that he wouldn't be with them anymore.  There is a husband & wife that work in there together & they then let us know that they were moving to his new room, but for the second service (we occasionally go to second service, but most of the time to third service).  So we decided to go to second service so Lil J would be able to be with them.  Also, last week we went to look at the new room.  It is full of desks, with just a couple of toys.  When we dropped him off yesterday they asked for his Bible (which he always brings, but we were glad that they were going to use it) & they also had a scripture written on a dry erase board & said they work on scripture memorization, which I was really happy about. 

I know there are people who feel very strongly opposed to "kids church", they feel that it's a waste of time, all play & no serious learning, & they take their kids to the main sanctuary with them for that reason.  I've heard lots of people complain that their kids never learned enough in "kids church".  But it is my belief that the primary learning should not be taking place at church.  It should be taking place at home.  A couple of hours in "kids church" each Sunday should not be all the Bible the child is ever exposed to.  It should simply reinforce what is being learned at home on a daily basis.  I also feel strongly against making a small child sit through the sermon meant for adults because of my own personal experience.  As a kid I always wanted to go to church, but was never allowed to, with the exception of each year on Easter.  And on that day, each year, I had to go to both Sunday School (ie "kids church") & also the main sanctuary.  And the time in the main sanctuary was unbelievably boring to me & I don't feel I got anything out of it at all.  And in Sunday School I do feel that I learned about the Bible, as much as I can in one day each year that is. 

And so while I haven't started scripture memorization as of yet with Lil J, I am excited that they are doing that in his Sunday School class.  And we do read a lot of Bible at home together each day.  And we do a Bible study every day at home, we've been doing that since he was a little baby.  And he does watch some Christian kid shows on TV, although I do limit his TV time, so he doesn't watch a whole lot of it. 

And up until now I felt that the birthday range system was confusing & a bit irritating, but I now suddenly realize the benefit of it.  In other churches the children are moved up by milestone (ie walking) or age, & they move all alone to a new class.  But with this system it's a big group of kids moving at the same time, so even though they are moved to a new class there are still familiar faces for them.  And I think it's pretty neat that, given we stay at that church long term & that other families do also, these kids can grow up together & always be in the same class together. 

So all in all I'm excited to see him excel & grow in his new class.  I noticed that they have 3 classrooms for 3 year olds.  And each one has a 4 month birthday range.  That's a lot of 3 year olds!  I don't know if it's that crowded for the other ages of kids, or if it's just the 3 year olds, but it sure seems like a lot of them to me!  I will have to remember to look at the other aged rooms & see how many of each there are.

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