Monday, November 16, 2015

How Do You Model Genuine Appreciation & How Do You Teach Children to Appreciate?

It is oh, so easy to take people for granted and worse, to end up taking advantage of
others. While I am sure none of use want to treat others in a "shabby" way, if we are not focused on genuinely treating others with appreciation, we may find we are not treating others as we should.

So, if it matters for us to be focused on genuinely appreciating others, what do you do to do this? Especially when it comes to genuinely appreciating volunteers, as they are people who often end up feeling like they were taken for granted and/or taken advantage of in our Children's Ministries. Consider the following ideas . . . 
  • Take time to know who the volunteers are in your Children's Ministry. If you know who the people are, it is less likely you will take them for granted or take advantage of them. How do you get to know them? Take time to talk with them. Listen to them. Hear about what brings them joy and what burdens their hearts. If you are too busy to actually get to know your volunteers, you are too busy and are much more likely to take your volunteers for granted and/or take advantage of them.
  • Be focused on, "noticing". Notice when your volunteers are there. Notice when they are not. Notice when your volunteers do something special to help a lesson impact the children in their classes. Notice if they look happy. Notice if they look or sound sad. Notice your volunteers.
  • Be ready to have "real" conversations with your volunteers. What is a "real" conversation, you ask? Well, a "fake" or at least "insincere" conversation is where you have a "canned" response or "thank you". If you tell every volunteer the same thing; for example, "Thank you for your service." it can end up sounding insincere and fake. Instead, take time to thank your volunteers in a personal way. For example, "Thank you for teaching so faithfully in the kindergarten class." Can you see the difference? If you do not know the specific area a volunteer serves; ask them. Then, ask what they enjoy the most about the specific area where they serve and thank them in a personal and specific way. Yes, all of this takes more time than just saying a "canned" thank you, but your volunteers are worth the extra minute or two it takes to have a "real" conversation and to thank them in a specific and personal way.
These are just a few ways to genuinely appreciate your volunteers; model it in front of the children in your ministry. Be sure they see and hear how you know your volunteers, notice what they do and have "real" conversations with them. Beyond modeling it for the children in your ministry, consider the following ideas to help children learn to be people who sincerely appreciate others . . . 
  • Give out, "Appreciation Assignments". What are, "Appreciation Assignments", you ask? Well, they are things you ask children - and families - to do to get to know their teachers, notice what they do and sincerely appreciate them! These, "assignments" could be things as simple as emailing families and asking them to make "thank you" cards for their teachers which they can bring with them to their class to give their teachers. Or, emailing parents and asking them to take a moment to personally thank their child's teachers. Simple, yet a way to help families and children become people who focus on being people who appreciate those who serve them each week!
  • Choose at least two times a year - possibly Christmas and the end of the school year, where you involve children in a teacher thank-you - this could be as simple as asking families to make cookies which you give the teachers, or make a homemade ornament for their teacher or a "heart" gift - anything with a "heart" on it . . . a drawing, painting, etc. which they then give their teachers.
  • Plan an end of the school year Volunteer Appreciation Pot-Faith where non-volunteers bring all the food (and the church provides additional food, so you are sure to have enough), then provide a nice dinner and give families an opportunity to thank their teachers!
These are just a few ideas, but helping children learn to be people who sincerely appreciate others; especially those who faithfully serve them, is something you have to both model and teach. 

How do you do this?

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