There are a number of reasons I will attribute to our recent 'excitement' and while I know that you are probably more interested in hearing about what we are up to I am going to do this first. I could also give this a "great title" (get it?! ha) and have millions of hits (double ha) but for now we will stick with this one. Reasons for our increased engagement at JS meetings.
- PRAYER: This is absolutely the number one reason for the great time we have been having at JS. In my attempts to stay positive I haven't shared much about the challenges that we have been facing in the past 6-9 months and I won't go into it all right now. All you really need to know, is that I was truly struggling and I eventually asked sincerely and without pride, for prayer. There are some amazing prayer warriors in our church, mature Christians who pray without ceasing. They rallied behind the JS and myself. Their prayers have been answered. The topic we are studying right now is "prayer" and I think that has helped too.
- Reflection and Planning: When on school holidays, I prayed; then I realised what needed to be done and I did it. (Der M). So, I reflected on the lessons and listed the successes and the challenges. I considered the lessons that had worked well. One aspect of this was the preparation. When I had prepared posters, cards, worksheets and other resources ahead of time, I felt better and that helped our lessons go more smoothly.
- Construction: During my reflection, I noticed that both boys had enjoyed craft (of all things) activities during our meetings. I realised that I had often discounted the 'craft' type activities in the belief that it was a bit 'girly'. However, I realised that if the craft was a little more free form and construction based, the boys were in their element. They also liked to use various media but were happy with pens and paper. When planning, I now ensure that there is at least one opportunity for the kids to create something.
- Games: I truly believe that games are an excellent opportunity for learning. There is so much we can learn through play and the JS curriculum almost always includes games to illustrate the main idea of the lessons. Unfortunately, almost every week, game time was resulting in tears/ tantrums/ cheating. If the game involved 'competition' and a clear winner or loser, one of my boys did not like losing. He also didn't like anything going wrong (e.g. in a running game he once tripped over and simply gave up because he thought he had no chance of winning). I would always end up getting so frustrated that the end of the lesson would be a shambles. So, I made a list of all the games or activities that we could play that involve turn taking but not winning. For example: Pictionary, Eye Spy, Charades, Scavenger Hunts and Kims (observation) Games. We use only games that are on my list... or if there is any sort of competition, I have the kids work together to 'beat' me. That means we have less 'sore loser' behaviour and way more fun.
There it is. Four reasons we have seen an improvement in behaviour and learning at Junior Soldiers but I have to give the glory to God.
I promise next time there will be pictures and news on our actual activities.