Parent Chores – OK, what am I supposed to do?
Corral the visiting families so we can start up co-op. Share concerns for the day; especially teachers who are absent and didn’t get a substitute worked out in time (everyone’s kids seem to sprout fevers on Friday morning, OH WELL) Share prayer requests, remind us to keep the building really, really clean, get us praying and on to group activities by 10AM.
Wranglers – set up time, and break time
Actively look for bored children and get them doing something constructive. Bring board games and interesting things for rainy days. Recruit them, play with them. Do not let them be noisy inside, because the church’s pastor is studying upstairs. At break time, take the clip board outside, so you know who is inside playing board games, and who is outside running off their energy. Recruit kids to run off energy, run off energy with them. Do whatever you can to get them to run off energy!
Get the kids inside well before 11:15 so they get to their group activities on time. Unfortunately, you don’t get to visit much with other adults with this job. There is more about wrangling on this page lower down.
Organize the planning meeting, make decisions when a tie breaker is needed, interface with the church, interface with the church custodian, run the e-mail communications, organize the web site, organize the planning charts, encourage the members, do whatever needs doing that others cannot or will not do to make the co-op run smoothly, listen to members’ ideas, look for resources, and pray for the co-op.
Most of the time you will cover for the missing helper, but sometimes you will be handed a book and a classroom of children. Your most important job is to make sure that we never have a closed door with only one adult. For propriety, avoiding actual abuse of children, and because that makes the church’s insurance company happy. The church that is not charging us rent!
Wander the building, listening for upset children. Since we have to have 2 adults in any class, it can be awkward to get naughty/distraught/hurting/ and-or upset children to their parents to be loved/disciplined/medicated/who knows? Your job is to connect children to their parents when there is trouble, making sure that there are always 2 adults in each classroom. You have a big clipboard with everyone’s location on it, be familiar with it. You also must give the teachers their 5 min warning, our class times are weird, and no-one is a clock watcher.
Display the books attractively that are to borrow, organize the give away table, and put the books back in the cabinet when co-op is done. Gently contact folks who are overdue in their books, and tell them not to lend them to friends who are not in co-op, we’ve lost books and videos that way.
Set up and Take Down Chief
Get all those volunteers moving, kick the chatters outside (or up the road to Dunkin Donuts) get it tidy, get out of there. So I can lock the doors and go home 😉 There is a pocket chart of the chores we have to do, move the cards around so the volunteers know what needs doing, and when it is done. You can even pass the cards out to your volunteers so they know what to do.
Make sure our volunteers do not use too much of their own money on their classes: we don’t want anyone penalized for volunteering to teach! If the money is all gone between semesters that is fine. If there is no money for the traditional $50 in a card for the church, fine (it embarrasses the pastor anyhow). Most of these ladies hate to ask for money, but reimburse them anyway. We keep things loose, most of the time when an ambitious class runs, the others have been cheap.
Winsomely remind the members to bring in their $10 in Fall and Spring. Keep track of who has brought in money, and who has not, they will not remember.
Sometimes the homeschool mom with gifts in teaching (not just tutoring) has little kids and cannot watch her own while she is teaching. Play with the babies, protect them, and summon the floor manager if they are inconsolable. Make sure we have 2 adults in there at all times.
Just what is a Kid Wrangler anyway?
I was watching ZOOM the other day on PBSkids, when they did a behind the scenes tour. They have a “kid wrangler,” to make sure they get on set on time, eat nutritious snacks, get their homework done, and call their parents if they have a problem. I think its meant to be a joke since Hollywood calls animal trainers wranglers. I once had a ballerina live upstairs. She ‘wrangled’ the child dancers at Boston Ballet for the nutcracker. Did you know that they have a water cooler and cups on stage behind the huge Christmas tree so that the dancers stay hydrated?
What do our kid wranglers do?
- Provide a chance for our kids to not get too wild during the break.
- Remind the wiggly ones to use the bathroom. Since there are only 4 bathrooms, this takes a while.
- Bring board games and building toys for them. (You can also ask others who are not kid wranglers to bring something.)
- Be sure these are unpacked on the side tables before the kids get out of their 1st hour class. This is a good idea for set up time too, since not all kids can help all of the time. The little kids could get super loud at this point, but since my pastor is upstairs finishing his sermon, they may not.
- Many of the children will want to go outside to the swings. Bring them out by all means, just make sure that one of you has a watch, counts noses and gets the kids inside before their classes start. Keep an eye on rough housing that turns serious and remind the kids about peacekeeping.
Your work enables the other adults to get a drink, and maybe use the bathroom, even if the children don’t. You can also see what games from someone else’s collection would be a good Christmas present at your house while you’re at it!
The Role of a Teacher’s Helper
Why do we need helpers?
- “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
- No one has 4 arms.
- No one has eyes in the back of their heads.
- No one person can give one-on-one attention to a student that need counseling and supervise a class at the same time.
- Most people lose their voices after half an hour of teaching.
- It’s more efficient if one person sets the table with activities while another finishes up a lesson on a story rug.
- The church’s insurance likes us to have 2 adults in a classroom at all times.
What to do? (Known as Crowd Control)
- Watch the children, not the lesson presentation.
- If someone is upset, sick, distracted or distracting, help them to focus on that lesson or go get the floor officer.
- Sometimes you should plant yourself between chatty or fighting kids.
- If you are fair, consistent and strict, those wiggly boys will adore you – its one of those mysteries of life.
- Be prepared for wild questions about the lesson, since you are the up close and personal grown up, you might be honored with their confidences.
- You may be asked to help decorate, shop, or prepare object lessons.
Tips for lead teachers (that you probably already know, but that I wish I had known earlier!)
You have challenging material to present, and lots of kids, so I gave you helpers, but now you have even more work to do; not only must you figure out what to do with the kids, and understand the material, but now you must guide the helpers. If they don’t feel busy, or led, they might start standing in the corner chatting, and may actually distract your students.
So how do you do this anyway? Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Pray for your co-operative efforts.
- Have you got your basin and towel? A Christian leader is a servant leader. Be prepared to do what others can’t or won’t do in order to run your class excellently to the Glory of God.
- You aren’t being bossy so don’t feel guilty. If you are gracious, people will appreciate knowing what to do. These are Busy Christian Moms who love their kids, otherwise they wouldn’t be here. But they do want to know what is expected of them.
- When you communicate…
- Always remember that these folks are volunteers.
- Briefly tell them why they need to do whatever it is that you want them to do.
- Keep the vision bright (what are we all working toward anyhow?)
- Don’t forget to say thank you often (they are volunteers after all, appreciation is their salary)
- E-mail, snail-mail and telephone them – catching someone in the hall at co-op is not enough.
- People will disappear if they don’t feel useful, they look to you to tell them what to do. This can be in writing, it can be before they come, but this is a big part of your job. And, you do need these people’s help, because you have a lot of kids to manage, and you will loose your voice maintaining discipline without them, and do you really want to cut out/paint/shop for all of those craft/science supplies yourself?
- Sue Anderson’s formula for delegating because Jethro was right! (See Exodus)
- Make a list of everything that needs to get done.
- Cross off the things that only you can do.
- Assign the other things to the other people.
- Thank them for their work.
- (Very hard part) Don’t fuss at them if it is not done exactly the way you would have done it, but if it must be done in one and only one way, be sure you give them the specific instructions, and to tell them why it must be done this way in time for them to do it. You are working with some of the most independent people on the planet, they will improvise, and some of their ideas will be great! Beware though, if you get perfectionistic on them, they might not come back, and you do need them!
- Procrastination will kill you.
- Keep your eyes and ear open all the time for good teachers and managers – then copy them like mad.
- Always prepare a few extra supplies, you don’t want to have to tell your own child, “we can do this at home, so you will have to go short right now.” (Just trust me on this one, its important.)
- Some obvious things:
- Learn the names (I’m bad at this!)
- Don’t know “kids,” know These Kids.
- Prepare more than you think you can finish in 45 min, so that they won’t get bored (groups of bored kids are trouble!) But prioritize what is vital to do at co-op, and what needs a group. The rest they can finish at home.
- Call for that floor officer if you have a naughty, distraught or sick child
Conclusion: There are few things so satisfying as bringing an excellent effort out of a group of people: Your helpers will feel happy, our kids will learn, make friends and memories, and God will be glorified.