Friday, 1 June 2012

More on Sunday School

I wasn't sure if I should write more on Kah Yen's Sunday School until I received a call from our church Sunday School pastor on Tuesday, two days after Kah Yen's first session there. Our church is a mega-size church so we don't know this pastor personally, neither does she know us. But she called and asked how was Kah Yen's first session. She also explained the reasons behind some of the activities they are doing with the children, and how we can help her to adapt faster.

I was really touched. It is not like I am sending her to a childcare where the staff and teachers are responsible for my child's well-being and growth. My idea of Sunday school is a group of kind and loving volunteers offer to help look after the kids while the parents are in the church service. I never expected they will make an effort to get to know every child and every parent. And I never expected the way they run the Sunday school is almost the standard of a Nursery outside.

Yes. When we first stepped into the place both my husband and I felt we came into a Nursery. There are least 5-6 big decorated rooms. The children are divided into 3 different clubs according to age group (David Club (for 18 months - 4 year olds); Timothy Club (for 5 - 9 year olds); Barnabas Club (for 10 - 12 year olds)). Kah Yen is in David's club and the children are further divided into N2 (18-month to 3 years old), N3 & N4 (3 - 4 years old). Kah Yen was in the N2 classroom.

Kah Yen's Sunday School welcome card
There are at least 5 volunteers for her class. The middle of the room was divided into four squares by masking tape. I did not pay much attention to it but pastor told me later it is used to train the children the concept of boundary - They are told to stay within the square boxes during all activities, insteading of running around the room. All the children's water bottle are placed at a table outside the boxes, they can only go the get their water bottles during break. And no snacks are allowed inside the room. This is to train their self-control. The children are encouraged to pack up the toys themselves when program starts - to train them about responsibility. In a nutshell, it emphasizes a lot on character training.

The programs are well planned too. I was quite impressed when they hand out a 6-week program sheet to me. It details all the activites for each week, catering to the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development of the child.

Kah Yen's first Sunday School session was a bit overwhelming to her, but she stayed through without much big fuss. She was tentative and reserved, but she did start to participate in the story telling and craft activity, following instructions and obeying them.

I was still very excited for the second session, eager to see how she will progress. At least she was not scared when we brought her into the room, though she pretty much remained as a observer at the beginning and throughout the singing and dancing session. However, like the first time, she was able to follow instructions and behave with good self-control during the offering time, quiet time and story-telling time.

All's well till the group activity time, there was a small breakdown. In this activity, every children was given a small plastic bowl, they are told to go the center of the room to get some macaroni from the teacher, come back and pour the macaroni to a bigger container. It was not a competition on speed or body coordination. So the emphasize was not on whether they can successfully pour the macaroni inside the container and how much. The teacher said it is perfectly fine if they drop some on the floor, just encourage them to pick up.

Hence I was really caught unprepared when Kah Yen burst into crying after she dropped some macaroni on the floor. Was it because the teacher was a little too loud exclaiming "Oh! The macaroni fell on the floor, we have to pick them up!"? I am sure she was just trying to get Kah Yen's attention and engage her. Was it because Kah Yen felt bad she did not do it correct? But she is only 18-month old, at this age toddlers are still shaky in right or wrong, aren't they banging table and snatching toys and spitting food etc, doing all the "terrible things" at terrible two?  Was it because there was no encouragement and praise from Mummy? Yes I will usually go overboard with praises when she does something well at home. At that moment I must admit my mind was working on how to engage her to pick up the macaroni, then to offer encouragement for what she had already done. I couldn't confirm but it could be either one of the reasons or all.

She finally calmed down after I carried her to the side with much cuddling. It left me thinking just how much encouragement and attention our children need from us for their emotional development.

Look forward to more Sunday School sessions, more opportunities to observe how Kah Yen learn and grow in a classroom. And as you can see there are plenty things for Mummy to learn too.

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