This year takes a lot of imagination, innovation, and thinking outside the box. Formation Leaders are tired and feel drained. There are some simple ways to gather that require less volunteers, less prep work and remove a lot of the load of trying to come up with something new or trying to do the previous programs in a COVID world.
Try Multi-Age Approach: Have the children meet in one or two or three different rooms with their siblings. Tell the story or theme of the day. Then divide the children into separate rooms to work on projects to build on the story or theme. This way you can combine children, not by age, but by “pods”. This requires less volunteers as you can break the children up by the volunteers present.
Try Family Approach: form family groups (assign 4-5 families each a room). Give them the story to read together and 3 activities to do to respond. This requires one volunteer per room to help with questions. Use Legos to rebuild the story or make murals or act out the story.
Try One-Room Godly Play or similar program: All gather in large room to hear the story. Each classroom has a different response activity that people can choose to do. They stay in that room until it is time to regather.
Try Station Approach: There is one story a month. Each room is a different station for the story, i.e. craft, recreation, science, mission, music, story-telling, etc.. Each week, the children who arrive are sent to a room/station they have not done before. The ages at the station are mixed aged children. The same stations do not need to be available each week. Each week three or four can be offered and then rotate out the next week.
For Safety, require masking of all (children cannot be vaccinated), have the children wash their hands upon entering any room, use items for marking the distance. These items may include: beach towels, hula hoops, dots, pool noodles, and other items to remind the children what the safe distance from non-family is. Try to have has little work on a table as possible to encourage open floor space for keeping distance.
Rethink the mission of your gathering: For some children, this year has been traumatic and frightening. Many have not gathered in class type activity in church for a year. Setting simple goals of fellowship, spiritual exploration, faith sharing, instead of markers of what they will know, will take the pressure off of everyone. Growing in relationships is the best goal during this coming year.
Keep parents informed of changes in your programs and of the safety measures you are using.