How We Gather…

… indicates how the rest of our time together will be.

This is a post continuing our theme of “hospitality.”

The Gathering Activity at our Rhythms of Grace service really helps to set the tone for the rest of the service.

We plan this open-ended activity to allow a gracious start time to the program and to let our particiapants explore the room a lttle bit, get used to a new spance and some new faces.  It can be so intimidating for children to move into a new space…by giving them an activity( decorating a banner, searching for hidden objects in the room, gathering up a basket of nuts or putting stuffed animals in an ‘ark’… these are simple ways to support a child through the first few minutes of our time together and to allow them to become acclimated to the space.

I wonder if there are similar routines that parents use when going to a new store… or doctor… or story hour… or school…  How is the transition from car to activity?  From entering to getting on with the program?  Any tricks out there?  tips?  Support for parents who have difficulty with their children and transition?  Share your ideas!

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2 Comments on “How We Gather…”

  1. Emma Scanlan Says:

    Times of transition have always been difficult for me, personally. I can remember Sunday nights in particular, feeling that sort of impending doom that the weekend was coming to a close and it was back to school the next day. My parents coined it the “Sunday night blues”. Leaving behind one frame of mind and having to regroup was anxiety producing.
    Through my own work at Hanna Boys Center (a residential treatment facility for at risk adolescent boys) we address the importance of transitions, as it applies to our program. Before leaving the cottage for a group activity which staff are present (like Chapel, school, and meals) the entire group sits together in the common room for “transition”. The boys tuck in their shirts and are quiet while the staff makes a few announcements about the general tone of the afternoon ( it was productive and appropriate or more often than not it was high energy and over stimulating). The expectations for the next activity are given, and a new tone is set. By giving the children a sense of consistency and predictability they are able to (theoretically) prepare themselves for the next step.
    Of course daily life for parents with children (and especially children with special needs) is rarely predictable or scheduled to the minute, I would imagine the same sentiment of “regrouping” and a little chat about what’s happening next would be helpful. Working to alleviate the anxiety is the goal. By telling a child what they can expect and what is expected of them helps them to comprehend what’s next and how they can start to shift gears. Also putting this in tandem with a “job” or a “routine” helps to get the point across even more. Maybe every time you’re about to go to the grocery store, for example, you put s/he in charge of going to get the shopping bags from the pantry and hanging onto them in the car- giving them a sense of responsibility and tactile reminder of what’s going on. Maybe before going into play group or pre-school you make up a silly song or rhyme that you say every time outside the door, instead of just a hug goodbye. By creating something memorable and specific to those places it helps them to further process and accept the moment of transition.

    • excellent suggestions.
      I also like how, when you gather with the boys at Hanna to transition to the next thing, that you have a review of what you have just done (reinforcement) and have some quiet time. I am a big believer in putting ‘commas’ in our days. We don’t often spend enough time digesting what we have just done before we move on to the next thing. Even just a pause to settle before heading out to the next project is a good idea.

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