motherhoodfaithfitness

sharing the joys, triumphs and struggles of faith, family and fitness!

Part 3, a day in the life of a school chaplain, other activities…

The bell sounds and lunchtime has ended, only an hour and a half left of the school day and the children can sometimes be tired and grumpy, and looking forward to home time. Sometimes I’ll use this time to catch up on emails, finding out what is going on in the area for parents and children, writing notes home, or getting party invitations or birthday cards ready. If time permits I’ll pop into a class, hang out with the parents at the school gates, or talk to a staff member about their day. 

On Mondays I run a walking group for parents followed by a coffee and chat time. We walk around the  neighbourhood and enjoy the fresh air and company, after an hour walk we are ready for our coffee. The times I spend with the parents help me to understand the needs of the families and the wider school community. Food parcels, one on one parent support, referrals to different groups and agencies, or just regularly touching base with their child are all ways of supporting and caring for the families. I have made many wonderful friends at the school, seen babies welcomed into families, year 7s graduate to high school, wept and laughed with this amazing school community.  

 

I have run a year 6/7 girls group for the last 5 years, these beautiful girls are a joy to be with. Over the years we have danced, created, painted, discussed, relaxed, dreamed, and talked about the big questions of life, from graduation dresses, to divorce, to cyber bullying to self harm to One Direction. I am constantly amazed at the pressures and worries girls of this age face, and in the light of technology and the ever increasing sexualisation of girls I feel it’s important to keep lines of communication open, discussing frankly and honestly the issues that face young women today. I love pamper sessions, last week we had a guided relaxation and foot massage, and worked together on finding other ways to deal with anxiety. 

  

I tried to find a photo I could use for “girls group” and checked out the images on Google…and every photo was of a half naked or suggestively posed group of girls, this is why it’s so important to have these chats and challenge the stereotypes girls face every day in the media and society. 

These are just some of the activities I get involved in as a pastoral care worker. If you have one in your children’s school, find out what they do, as we are all so diverse and we try to work with the needs and culture of our own school. 

  

And for a smile…here’s me as the Fairy Godmother for Book Week! 

  

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Part 2, A day in the life of a school chaplain, Lunchtimes.

Lunchtime for me depends on the day, on Mondays I set up beading and loom banding in the library. This is a great warm place in the winter months and both girls and boys enjoy creating bracelets, necklaces and key rings for friends, parents and themselves. I have done beading with the children all the years I have worked at the school, I find it is very soothing and relaxing for the students and helps with hand eye coordination as well as being a quick project that can be taken home to show to the family. Beading was always popular with the girls but  this term I have seen lots of boys coming in since I brought the loom bands and boards in. I love seeing the bigger students helping the younger ones thread beads, knot the elastic and show them how to use a loom. 
 On Friday lunchtimes I meet a couple of girls for a session based around grief and loss and anxiety. We do relaxation exercises, breathing techniques, chat through stuff and play “Operation” and “Tummy ache” board games. We often use Strengths cards to identify their areas of difficulty and most of all, where they excel and are thriving.

  
One lunchtime a month I celebrate the children’s birthdays who were born that month. This is best lunchtime activity ever! We have fairy bread, chocolate, chips, lollies and a home made cake. The children wait eagerly for the invitation to come out to them the week before. We play pin the nose on the clown, musical statues and find out how they are celebrating their birthday or what they hoped to get for a present. The food is kindly donated by the local church and Foodbank. I make the cake as for some kids it’s the only cake they have for their birthday, so chocolate butter icing and sprinkles are very necessary! At the end of the party the children each get a present from the party box, again donated from lovely members of my church, little cars, bracelets, hair ties, pencils and erasers, small gifts that the children love and are grateful for. I am blessed to have a number of faithful ladies who make birthday cards for the children too. Many children tell me years later they have kept their cards, the power of something made with love and care is tremendous, and the children feel valued and celebrated. The birthday parties have to be one of my favourite roles as a pastoral care worker. I am constantly blown away by how such a simple and easy 40 minute party can bring so much joy and excitement to a child, whether they are 5 or 13!   

The role of a pastoral care worker is to celebrate each life, and help the children find their value, purpose and hope. A party is a perfect opportunity to show every student they are important and worth throwing a party for! 

Roll on Friday…it’s the June party!!! 

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A day in the life of a school chaplain, part 1

School chaplain, Christian pastoral support worker, Pastoral care worker, these are the 3 job titles ive held in the last 5 and a half years of working at a local primary school. The job title changes with every change of government it would seem, so I choose to call myself “friend”. 

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what a school chaplain does, so I’ll enlighten you about a typical day. 

I get to school early and run a program called Get Ready Club, where the kids can come, brush their teeth, get their hair brushed and styled, gelled and spiked, plaits, ponytails, and get a little glitter for the day. They earn stickers for each time they come, and can win a prize at the end of the term!  

I regularly have 20 children a day come through, and it’s a joy to see their happy faces coming in, sharing their news and excited to see their friends in the morning. Get ready club not only addresses the physical needs of keeping teeth clean and hair tidy but provides a social and caring aspect at the beginning of their school day, which for some children is a huge factor in whether they will have a good or bad day. 

After the bell goes I help run a Playgroup in the school, we are “SA Playgroup” affiliated and have families from both the school and wider community attend. It’s great to see mums, dads and grandparents bring their little ones along. We are a very friendly and relaxed playgroup, with crafts, free play, fruit and music time. The song time is my favourite part of playgroup, playing my guitar along with the merry band of tambourine and maraca shaking toddlers, who love the songs whether I hit a bum note or sing out of tune, a perfect audience! I attended a music and movement workshop last month and it gave me lots of ideas to integrate learning opportunities like numbers and colours into song time as well as songs that use the whole body, dancing, clapping, twisting, using those large muscle skills, and songs that use fine motor skills like Incey wincey, and Twinkle twinkle.  

 

After singing the goodbye song, we wave our families goodbye and clean up. I then run a year 6/7 boys cooking group, where I take a small number of boys and we make, bake, chop, slice, and prepare delicious and (usually) healthy food. I try to use ingredients that are fresh and good value. Last week we made a vegetable soup for under $8 and it fed the whole class. Cooking is a great time to connect with these young men, chatting about their day, school, sport, home, girls, crazy movies, games and jokes. I laugh a lot! I love hanging out with these boys, and I know they love eating food, so cooking is a great medium to do both, and it teaches them so many kitchen skills that I’m sure their parents and future partners will appreciate! 

So that takes us to lunchtime. As you can see a school chaplain supports, listens, has fun, cares and is there for the school community. It’s not my job to “Bible bash”, judge, be a holy roly or brain wash people, it’s simply to show love, kindness, respect, and grace, just like Jesus said to. 

Part 2 to follow….lunchtime and beyond! 

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