Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday School Update

A quick update to followup on our progress--second week of Sunday school was a big success!

Not perfect of course--there were a few tricky moments and a lack of focus on the teacher overall, but Merry participated in the art project, stayed with the class and loved the sing-along at the end.

It's looking like key will be to break up mass and Sunday school, provide some incentives, and talk Merry through the process so he knows what to expect.

I ended up taking Merry to mass on Saturday evening, which went really well. Two solid hours of sit still be quiet is a lot to ask of any 3 year old, and this breaks it up into more manageable chunks. I'm not crazy about making two trips every weekend, but its a small price to pay for avoiding meltdowns. Not only is the drive to and from church fairly relaxing and beautiful all by itself, our weekends aren't usually super-productive anyway. An extra dose of Jesus is a good use of time and some added structure (yay structure!).

Merry and I talked about Sunday school a bit during the week, especially on Saturday when I talked him through the schedule for Sunday: "tonight we'll go to mass, then go home for dinner and bed. In the morning we'll go to the park, then back to church for sunday school, then you can play outside and we'll go home for lunch". He really likes going through a schedule and knowing what's coming next in the day.

We did stop by the park for a few minutes before class; I was thinking that it'd be a good way for him to burn off energy. But the playground was wet and Merry was unimpressed. Probably not worth it going forward, especially since the weather is unlikely to cooperate 80% of the time.

The big kicker was the W mat. The church has a set of alphabet mats for the kids to sit on, and my alphabet-loving boy wanted his favorite letter something fierce. I had a hard time our first weekend explaining that the W mat wasn't his just because he liked it, but that it belonged to his teacher and he would have to behave if he wanted to have it. This apparently sunk in, because when we talked about it during the week, Merry's main input and biggest concern was: "Maybe I can sit on Ms. J's W mat?"

So I emailed Ms. J to check that it would be ok if I made sure the mat was reserved, and also checked to see if the structure of the class would be the same most weeks: art project followed by circle time for the lesson and maybe a song if there was time. I promised Merry that if he could behave during art project, then he could sit on the W mat during circle time.

Oh man, that did it. He even weathered an unexpected 'field trip' into the sanctuary, as long as he knew the W mat was waiting for him when we finished. I am so proud of my boy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sunday Blues Pt. 2

I'm not done whining about Sunday school--my last post ate two of my writing sessions and I wanted to keep momentum going so I'm breaking it up.

On top of the various strategies to help Merry make it through classes, there's another part of my brain wondering if this is even a battle worth fighting. One mom brought her anxious son to class with the promise that he could leave if and when he wanted, then after a few minutes they took off, no fuss. Should I be doing that? Am I asking too much too soon? I don't think so. I specifically volunteered to be a class aide so that I'd be on hand and Merry wouldn't have to adjust to all this on his own.

Regular church attendance is very important to me, and I don't plan on making it optional for the boys. Pre-K sunday school is not exactly vital curriculum on either a social, academic or spiritual scale, but at the same time the 'take it or leave it' approach feels like the wrong path for us. These early years set the rhythm, the expectation, the family traditions that will carry us through the boys' childhood and adolescence. (Also I'm pretty sure that if given the choice Merry would always opt out, never staying long enough to see whether or not it's fun.)

So yes, I'm willing to give this a good strong try. If it continues to go badly then we can look at other options or waiting another year, but it's not time to give up just yet.