One of the most momentous occasions in a young family’s life is the starting of kindergarten for their child. This marks the moment that the child is moving away from a life centered on family to one of school and friends. As a mother, I joined many mother’s whose eyes were filled with tears after the first day drop off. There is no going back to a baby. Kindergarten signifies a permanent shift in the family.
It is important for the church to acknowledge this momentous step. Honoring and acknowledging this step moves the church out of the Sunday morning “box” and into a family’s life and home.
Besides the Blessings of Backpacks, which are done for all children, the Sunday before school starts, we have a Kindergarten Parent & Child Breakfast, usually before the main family service. The invitations to the breakfast are sent out a month ahead of time, so busy families can make plans. The room of the breakfast is set up as welcoming as possible and all are encouraged to wear nametags. The breakfast is a buffet to keep it casual and to be welcoming to any late-comers. Also, we tend to have those who did not RSVP come, so always allow for more food.
At the appointed time of the breakfast, I welcome everyone and say a prayer. They, then, get the food they would like. Once all are settled at a table eating, I talk about the importance of this day. I hand out a growth chart containing what is expected in the next year including Faith, Interpersonal, Values, Family and Needs of the Age. I talk about the importance of church and a faith life is to the growing child and their family. I, also, give hints of what to do when roadblocks, such as boredom or not wanting to come, hit. I then give out a Parent Booklet “Getting School Ready!” (Click on the Link to be taken to the site to get a free PDF.). I have on hand a book: Lessons Learned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide for Parents by Jeannie Podest, who is a teacher and parent. One option is to order enough copies for each parent to take home. Lastly, I give each child a book: Kindergarten, Here I Come by DJ Steinberg. Another really good one is On the First Day of Kindergarten by Trish Rabe. (Click on the books to go to Amazon to see and get the books). I remind parents and children that I am there for them. In each book given, I have a label that says “A Gift from St. Paul’s Children’s Ministry.”
Parents are very grateful for the breakfast and the attention. It reminds them that the church cares about them and what is happening in their lives. It, also, serves as an evangelism tool, as the parents will tell other parents at their school what a great thing their church did for them.
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