You’ve wiped runny noses, picked playdough out of the carpet, cleaned juice spills off the table, applauded toilet training milestones, and cut out more printable patterns than you care to remember. But—you’ve also heard the prayers of a child, listened to the voices of your little ones as they sang songs of praise, seen preschoolers raise their hands in praise, watched children respond with wide-eyed wonder as you shared stories from the Bible, and left God prints on the hearts of the children in your group. As this season of learning comes to a close, you’re probably ready for a break. That’s okay! It’s important to embrace a time of rest and renewal for yourself. You may also be wondering, “What about the connections I made with my little ones? How can I keep those strong over the summer?” Read on for some simple solutions.
Take a group photo. Gather everyone around you and pose for a group photo. Develop the pictures and attach them to a card to give out on the last day. Encourage kids to place their card on a place where they’ll see it each day and to remember to pray for their friends. Include a personal note to each child, naming something you love about them. And add a “God Loves You!” reminder too.
Send Snail Mail. Getting a note in the mail is always a fun surprise---especially if you’re little! Plan to send each of your little ones a note or two in the summer to say hello and to remind them that “God loves you and is with you wherever you go.” For those children who will be starting school in the fall and not returning to your program, add a note to let them know that you are praying for them as they start their school adventures. Tip: Save time by purchasing note cards and envelopes now and asking parents/caregivers to print their child’s name and address on a blank envelope or two before your program ends.
Make flat friends. Flat Stanley is a paper thin storybook character that grade school kids color and send to send to far away friends, asking those friends to send back photos of their adventures with him. Search online for a Flat Stanley template to download, print on to cardstock and cut out for each child. Give each child a flat friend to color and take on adventures over the summer. Send home a note that includes your email address and invite families to send you photos as a way to stay in touch. Tip: Gather the photos in an album for everyone to look through on the first day back. Get everyone started by snapping a photo of each child standing in front of the church or in your room, perhaps sitting in a favorite location like a rocking chair. Remind the children that someone they can’t see is also going with them on every adventure—Jesus!
Plan a picnic. Arrange to meet up with the children in your group and their parents/caregivers at a local park for a picnic play date.
Support faith nurture at home. Point parents to the iTunes version or the amazon location of the Sing-along Praise Songs album used in Story Hour so they can download some favorites and sing them at home. Give a child who is “graduating” your program the gift of a good children’s story Bible. Make available some Bible storybooks that families can sign out over the summer and bring back in the fall. Tip: Are you replacing your old God Loves Me books with the revised version this fall? Bless families by giving each child a book from the old set to keep. Print a personal note and add a Bible verse inside the cover!
Enjoy your time away from planning for you program. Set aside time to connect with God and to nourish your spirit. And remember, God is going everywhere you go too!
How do you stay connected with your little ones over the summer? Please share your ideas with us by posting comments on The Network site.