Rise and Shine Ministries serves Christian youth workers and parents who seek the Lord in raising and educating children and youth. We provide encouragement and ideas founded on God’s Word and pray that our blogs point you to seek Him in all things!
Thanks for asking me questions! As I respond please remember that while there are certain foundational principles we will speak about there are no set recipes to follow. The Holy Spirit guides us and He is our master teacher. See these responses through the eyes of the Spirit and remember that when God gives us a blueprint from His kingdom it does not resemble the ways of the world.
- What are important ground rules to give and to repeat/reinforce to the kids and whenever new kids that join our gathering?
The foundational scripture, as you know, is Philippians 4:8. One thing that could be done is consistently declare this scripture at the beginning of each session. What needs to be remembered is that helping members (including adult volunteers) to internalize this foundation is a process. Just as adults need to be encouraged through positive, consistent reminders children need this as well. Do remember, that adults need to follow and model the same kind of interactions expected of the children and need to be held accountable to them as well.
Remember, too, that Light on the Hill, is set up from a community/church perspective. That means we are all in one community and not separated from each other. With this in mind, children can help with responding to each other’s positive interactions. (“Akash, look how well Manju is listening. Tell her thank you!”) Notice I am not using the word “ground rules” because it is more about on-going interactions not isolated rule-making.
- How do we respond to kids who show behaviors that are non-cooperative, disruptive, violent, or mean using the Philippians 4:8 approach? Please include what we do when the behaviors continue or escalates despite right response to them? (keep in mind some of the kids are part of a day care headed by the owner of the house that we meet at)
Let me start with this before I forget. I would rethink using the word “kids” for our children. You know how important and powerful our words are. “Kids” actually gives a subtle sense of condensation. Notice that I do not use the word “kids” but instead “children.” In fact, we are all one community and we need to continue to find words that unite community and not separate. We are all children of God not matter how old or young!!
Also, notice that I rarely use the word “behavior”. We cannot be reduced to specific behaviors. We are complicated, wonderful creations of God and so when certain things occur we need to examine entire interactions/ways of being/heart issues to really be a positive influence on the people in our community.
I would encourage actually a reframing of the question asked. This question comes from a negative standpoint versus the positive interactions we need to encourage and support. Yes, it is a shift in the way we see and think. So let me help reword the above question: “How can we help children to interact in a cooperative, peaceful and caring way? How do we respond to maintain this kind of atmosphere?” Do you see the difference?
Again, there are no magic recipes. Remember so many of these interactions have been so part of our children, their families, and our society. It sometimes takes a bit of time to help them see God’s way! Make sure that Philippians 4:8 isn’t just to be used when you see a “problem.” It needs to permeate the atmosphere and your hearts. See the strengths of each child not their deficits. Before the children even sit in the circle, shower them with words of love and with physical embrace. The second they sit in the circle respond to them in a positive way. Keep it up consistently and at a quick pace, one positive comment after the other, as each child comes to sit.
“Wow, thank you Dilshad, you came in and sat down immediately! I love your beautiful smile! Help your friend next to you sit nicely.”
“I am so glad you’re here, Suraj!! We missed you!”
“Look at Malan helping her friend. Let’s all give her a hand! Thank you Malan! Raise your hand if you are going to help your friends today. Good!!”
All adults need to sit in the circle with the children to reinforce that we are all one community/church. Your physical presence in the circle also helps children to interact positively.
The more disruption shown the more positive attention this community member needs before negative interactions become manifest. Help the children also comment on positive behavior. If something negative occurs during conversation time look at a community member that is doing the opposite and recognize them.
“I see that Kamal is giving me eye contact when I speak. Thank you, Komal. We will wait for everyone to give me eye contact. Oh, good, Raju, now you are looking at me! Thank you!”
Notice, it was Raju who needed to give eye contact (do you see here that I didn’t say what Raju wasn’t doing but what he needed to do—this is Philippians 4:8, as well) he was guided through our recognition of someone else giving eye contact and then recognized when he did the same. Please make sure that each community member is held accountable to eye contact, raising hands, etc. Take time to wait (As you are positively recognizing) until all are ready receive.
Asking an older child to leave the community because of disruptive interactions is a very sensitive matter. This should only be done for absolutely extreme situations. We are here to love and guide the children. It is imperative that we do not blame the children but ask God for His understanding and wisdom in showing His unconditional love. Think about church. Do pastors ask anyone in the congregation to leave during a service? Usually not. Perhaps if there is a member that is disruptive an usher might go to them, guide them to another area, and then pray for them individually.
Sadly, many teachers often have their favorites and tend to give them more positive attention, call on them to respond more often, etc. They also have students which they expect to be disruptive, etc. and often give them the bulk of the negative to attention. This, of course, is not the way of the Kingdom. God has no favorites and, in fact, loves us all. He expects us to treat His little ones and each other the same. Examine yourselves and how you are interacting with each community member. In this way you will help to ensure that all members feel loved and cared for.
Continue praying for them, laying hands on them, and praying for the filling of the Holy Spirit. Declare words of love, prosperity, health, joy and peace over them. God’s Word works and will be of effect in their life. Have faith in God’s work in them. No matter what you see with your natural eyes know that God is working. Look at the children (and each other) with your Spiritual eyes. Pray for God’s vision for each child and see it when you look at each child. Remember Gideon—God called him a valiant warrior when he was still cowering in the wine press.
- How do we BE good models instead of just using methods to get the kids to do what we want (manipulative)?
Read the Word, declare the Word, walk the Word in your life!!! Think about how you interact in your family, with your friends, with neighbors, with strangers? Are you speaking words of life, words of love? Think about how you speak to yourself and about yourself? Is Philippians 4:8 in effect in your own life and mind? Renew your mind with the Word as you declare it and walk in it. Look at each and every member of the Light on the Hill community with eyes of the Holy Spirit who lives within you!!!
- How do we engage kids of different ages in one fellowship so they learn to be together? Can you address if their parents or other adults start to join us in the gathering?
Light on the Hill has always followed a church fellowship model—not a traditional Sunday School model. It is set up to be a real church for children (and later their families) who haven’t consistently experienced church.
Therefore, model after any Spirit-filled church and include:
- praying in tongues
-worship (teach action songs after service to possibly be used for following week)
- a living message. (The message could actually be the same Word Pastor gives you to pass on to Light on the Hill that same week.)
-once a month(at least) communion
-limit repetitive prayer only to the confession or group declaration.
-After church service fellowship, games and snack (Though as time goes on and with inclusion of families games will slowly be dropped and more time for fellowship and individual prayer).
- Can you again summarize main parts of the vision for “Light on the Hill”?
As noted in the previous question, Light on the Hill was created to boldly preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to children. God clearly directed me to begin with the children He sends and then open it up to their families and the larger neighborhood. “The children will lead their families to me.”
From its inception, August, 2013 the schedule above has been set in place and, Praise God, has been moving in the power of the Holy Spirit ever since.
- What do you mean when you talk about not “lowering” the quality of doing church/message/worship for children? How do we check if we are lowering or not lowering the quality/standard?
The standard is not the standard of the world and what we traditionally think children can and cannot do. If we walk by sight and not by faith then what’s the point? We can because we serve a God for which everything is possible!!!
We keep the vision that God has in mind—a community that worships Him in His Spirit, truth, authority and power—and keep moving toward that vision whatever the circumstances or challenges. We keep declaring that vision over Light on the Hill and it will manifest. God wants this work to explode and it will as we partner with Him in faith and in the knowledge of His vision.
Remember, that he Holy Spirit is the same Spirit in all of us—no matter what age, what kind of homes we come from, etc. How do we check whether we are at the standard of the Holy Spirit? By His presence and His power!
Wonderful time with children and new donation of books and games! Thank you all so much for your prayers. Many children are coming and women, too. Sessions have been expanded to 2 times per week. Some children now regularly gio to Sunday church. We are praying for a bigger house to serve more of the community. We are also praying for a special pastor called to serve this particular community.Please pray with us!!
Much love in Christ,
Another amazing Saturday with Light on the Hill! Children taught each other paper crafts and created fish, boats, pockets and birds. The older children also helped with music, translation, and a game of Simon Says. Praise God that the children are leading! This is a confirmation of a word God gave almost a year and 1/2 ago—”The children will lead!!”
If you would like to donate for snacks, books, puzzles, games and art supplies it will be so appreciated. Thank you all for your prayers! Much love! Nina
So much to tell you since my last post!! Now in Pune, India and over the last five weeks have begun a weekly 2 1/2 hour Saturday group for neighborhood children called Light on the Hill! God has multiplied the number of children each week and this past Saturday we had 44 children and 6 adults in my “little” apartment. But nothing is too little or too big for God and so somehow we fit comfortably. Children participate in the following schedule:
- Final Prayer/leave-taking
Some subjects already spoken about include being a channel of peace and love (from song Make Me a Channel of Your Peace), Jesus’s love, and prayer. Translation is provided in Hindi and Marathi.
The children are, of course, amazing and joy-filled!! This past Sunday 16 of them came to church and really enjoyed Sunday school!
We need donations for learning games such as puzzles, building toys and snack. Thank you all for your prayers and support. Much love!!!
Most struggling readers need more than instruction in just letter names and sounds. In fact, letter naming and isolated sound work often hinders the progress of these pre-readers. Activities where reading comes alive through song, movement to songs/poems, personal stories, books of interest, on the other hand, will help those who see themselves as non-readers build confidence and belief that they too can become real readers and writers.
- story writing, publishing, and oral sharing of stories where word building, phonics, thinking, and public speaking will be addressed
- dialogue journals and letter writing to increase written and conversational English including spelling and increased vocabulary
- choral reading/singing to increase sight word reading and reading fluency (smoothness)
- skits to support increased fluency, reading
- reading aloud by teacher to increase vocabulary, and discussion skills
- final presentation of skits, songs, written work to add even more purpose to the work
I am in Pune, India now working with teachers and children at Harbour City School. It is the beginning of the school year and most of the children have already written their first stories!! What excitement when the children received their first type-written copies! (see photos on my facebook page (Nina Zaragoza).
It still amazes me how two or three typed-written pages of a self-created story can engender such a love of writing in young children. I just got an email from Natalia, the Mom of 2 ½ year old Faith. I worked with Faith for only a few months while in New York City and her mom shares:
For the last couple weeks Faith says: “Mom I wanna write a story!!” I remember that is exactly what you said would happen!! She loves to write stories. She still loves whales, but she is also writing about other things.
Here’s a question Natalia asks about Faith’s reading habits:
Faith loves to read the same book, so what I did today was I just chose one quickly, and she was fine with it. I read other books to her during the day, and then tried to persuade her to choose different ones and she does. When it comes to school, though, she picks the same one over and over. Is that ok?
It is perfectly okay that she picks the same book for you to read over and over again. She will soon probably read that book by herself. All children love to hear their favorite book over again–it is like us wanting to listen to our new favorite song over and over again. We want to learn that song so we want to listen to it again and again. It is the same with children and books.
Reading the same book many, many, many times also builds confidence with reading and writing. In this way a sense of story (beginning, middle, end, characters, setting, problem, solution) is reinforced and vocabulary is developed and refined.
In fact, if you have ever tried to learn a new language you might have noticed that you also wanted to read material that came easier to you before tackling new material. This is what happens with our young children as they are learning the written form of their native language.
What a blessing that she loves a book so much. So always say “Yes!” to that book and just include other books to read aloud along with her favorite one.
One more question about Faith:
I noticed she is attached to me more than ever. I tried to leave her in her church class on Wednesday when I went my usual women’s Bible class, and she cried like she was in pain, cleaving to me and begging me not to leave her. Each week it is the same scene. Do you think it’s a good idea to put her in a VBS (Vacation Bible School) program for a week, even though she isn’t 3 yet?
I think that Faith is realizing that she is becoming more independent and sometimes it is scary. Don’t worry. It will pass. Continue to help her to do tasks independently so that she builds confidence. Also, of course, give her lots of hugs so she knows that even though she is becoming more independent you will still always be there to love and help her!!
In regards to VBS, it depends on the length of the program. If it goes for a half a day, Faith will be fine…especially if she can engage in a variety of activities that interest her. You could also think about including her cousin or another child she knows to accompany her and thus lessen her anxiety. Let me know how it goes!!!
Just a quick review for new comers to my blog– here are the steps to writing stories with young children or any emergent writer, no matter what age:
- Give child a blank piece of white paper or a notebook with blank paper
- Have them mark the paper (these marks you call writing not drawing—we are building their identities as authors)
- When they are finished say something like: “Oh, tell me your story.” Or “What is your story about?” We keep focused on the word “story” instead of saying “What is this?” (which is connected to drawing)
- Take what the child says to direct your further responses. So if the child says, “cat” you can say, “Oh, cat! What is the cat doing?” or “Oh, where is the cat? Is he outside or in the house?”
- After child responds say, “Let’s write your story.” Write the words as you read them. “The cat is outside.” Then ask young author, “What is the cat doing?” If the author says, “playing.” You say “Oh the cat is playing!” Then begin writing and say to the child , “Say it so I can write it.” Support the child by saying along with him “The cat is playing.” Write it, and say, “Let’s read it ‘The cat is playing.”
- These two lines are appropriate for the first story of a young author.
- To build the concept of title you can say, “What is your story about? Is it about a dog? No, it’s about a cat. So what should we name this story? Do you want to call it “The Cat”? or “The Playing Cat?”
- Let the child choose then write what he chooses as you read while you write.
Now, you can type the child’s words and turn it into a book! One sentence per page is good for beginning writers! Three pages make a book! So don’t worry now about wasting paper. Each page will have enough space to illustrate! This kind of illustration is important for young writers as they learn to connect drawings to the text on the page.
And just think as each young author writes and publishes a story your library expands and children truly do learn to read what they have written!
Let me know what you think!
Many of our children feel overwhelmed when asked to provide a written response to a passage. The following are some concrete strategies to help your children approach this task more confidently and successfully. These strategies, too, will help them organize their thinking and in turn their writing.
To help children internalize these strategies coach them as they respond to an appropriately leveled text. Help them to verbalize each step. Over time with consistent practice children will apply these independently:
- When reading use pencil to point to words and to underline important information.
- Read questions first so you know what you are looking for and so you can underline appropriate material
- To help with understanding use strategies:
-visualize—make a picture in your head
-text to self (“What does this remind me of in my own life?”)
-text to world (“Does this remind me of anything happening in the world?”)
-text to another piece of literature/movie/tv show (“What book, movie, TV show do I think of when I read this?”)
-ask questions before, during, and after such as: “I wonder if….; I wonder why……; I wonder who……; I wonder when…..; etc.
- When answering question restate the question in your first sentence.
- Give examples from the passage and write, “For example….” Do this for each story when two stories are being compared.
- Restate the question again at the end.
Let me give a sample 4th grade question that you will find after a student reads two pieces about the Ferris wheel. The response is written by a 4th grader as she worked through the above steps/strategies.
Question: Describe the similarities and differences between the two passages. Include details from both to support your answer.
The topics of the articles are similar in a few ways but they are different in many ways.
Both talk about the Ferris wheel. They also describe what it looks like.
The topics of the articles are different in many ways. First, the article called “Ferris’s Grand Idea” talks about the history of the Ferris wheel. For example it described how it looked, “a revolving wheel..250 feet in diameter.. It would hold more than 2,000 people in 36 cars.” It talks about how it was designed and built. It also talks about the man who built it.
The article called “The Ferris Wheel” is about people who go on the Ferris wheel. It describes people’s feelings including an old man who doesn’t want to go on it. “An old man one day looked up and said, “life is too precious to be risked in that way.”
The point of view is also different because in the “Ferris’s Grand Idea” it is more like just telling the history of the Ferris wheel. In “The Ferris Wheel” it is like a person telling a story.
These articles are similar because they talk about The Ferris wheel but they are mostly very different.