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First United Methodist Church Children and Youth Ministry

Volunteer Leader Handbook
Created: September 2010 Latest Revision: May 2013
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According to the Grace Contrino Abrams Peace Education Foundation, Inc. (Miami, FL 1997), the role of a teacher is to:       BUILD a sense of community by creating a non-competitive learning atmosphere where children feel safe and secure and show respect for each other MODEL a supportive and positive attitude and express empathy for all RESPECT and become aware of cultural and developmental differences among children DEVELOP children’s self-confidence and encourage them to become responsible members of society by building positive habits ENCOURAGE the growth of the children’s self-concept by noticing and acknowledging their accomplishments FACILITATE learning and foster independence by giving children choices, allowing them to experiment and express new ideas without judgment and ridicule, while providing clear boundaries and corrective feedback EMPOWER children to use higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills ENHANCE intrinsic motivation and encourage children to take responsibility for their learning and ownership of their accomplishments

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As leaders in the children and youth ministry areas, it is important that we remind ourselves of these many roles and do our best to apply that knowledge to our every contact with children and youth. You are not a volunteer recruited to fill an empty spot, you are a leader and teacher bestowed with the most essential task of helping our young people grow into adults who know and love God and express that faith in their thoughts, words, and actions. While the many facts and concepts we will share are very important, it is MORE important that we share a trusting relationship with each child and youth; that they know they can depend on us for consistency, honesty, support, and unconditional acceptance, and in doing so, witness a model of the relationship we have with God.

Our Children’s Ministry Mission Statement To encourage and support children in their spiritual journey as part of the community of believers by providing them opportunities to experience and share God through play, service, prayer, and celebration. Our Youth Ministry Mission Statement To PRAISE God with our hearts, REACH out to the community, TEACH others about our faith, CONNECT with other Christians, and FOLLOW Jesus Christ in all we do. Our Preschool Mission Statement To promote the social, emotional, intellectual, moral, and physical development of young children. We provide positive learning experiences in a loving Christian environment. We hope to enhance family life through parental involvement in their children’s education. 2

All policies and procedures in this handbook must be applied IN ADDITION to all policies and procedures outlined in the Florida Conference Child/Youth Protection Policy. In the interest of concision, from this point on we will sometimes refer to the Director of Children’s Ministries as the DCM and the Director of Youth Ministries as the DYM. General Leader Policies  Prayer- Pray for each class, event, and student by name on a regular basis. Ask God to continually help you to improve your ability to impact young people for His kingdom.  Attendance- If you are ill or cannot be at your scheduled class or activity, it is first up to you to find a qualified substitute. If you are unsuccessful finding a substitute, please notify the DCM or DYM (whichever is applicable) as soon as possible. If it is a last minute situation (for instance you wake up ill on Sunday morning and you were scheduled to teach Sunday School) please make sure to attempt contact by phone, text, and email until you have received confirmation from the substitute, DCM, or DYM that they are aware you will not be in attendance. It is important that we avoid any situation which could lead to children or youth being unsupervised because someone “didn’t get the message.”  Preparation- Please have ALL preparations and supplies ready and be in your classroom or activity area at least ten minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Making all copies and preparations AHEAD OF TIME will ensure that as students enter the room you are able to greet each one with your focused attention.  Respect and behavior modelingo Leaders and youth helpers should never be “hanging out” chatting when they should be engaging with children or modeling desired behavior. If you are talking, texting, or otherwise engaged while another leader is teaching the children then your behavior is telling the children that you don’t respect the other leader and that what they are saying about God is not as important as what you are doing. o REMEMBER that children and youth are ALWAYS watching and will model their behavior after that of the authority figures they come in contact with. o Avoid discussing another adult or child in any way that could be misconstrued as negative or gossipy; always use appropriate language and subject matter in front of students. o Sometimes we may be made aware of private information in order to better serve our children and families. Be sensitive to confidential information about students and their families and do not discuss this information outside of the activity.  Safetyo Never allow children/youth to engage in questionable behavior or roughhousing that could result in injury. o Follow all posted playground rules when using the preschool playground. Follow directions of adult leader while using the Roper Park playground. o Be aware of broken objects and sharp corners that may impede safety and notify directors if replacements are needed. o Have students hold the handrail when climbing stairs. o IF an injury occurs, it must be documented on a Child/Youth Protection Incident Report Form and submitted to the DCM or DYM (whichever is applicable). o Familiarize yourself with exits and proper emergency procedures. o ALWAYS use appropriate touch.  All leaders and volunteers in the child/youth ministry areas are expected to attend training and ministry enrichment sessions when offered, in addition to the yearly child abuse prevention training. In addition, attendance is expected at any necessary meetings of your particular teaching team or applicable activity area.

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Classroom Management/Interaction Tips and Guidelines  Set up classroom/activity space ahead of time to minimize distractions and facilitate learning.  Get a group’s attention BEFORE you try to make an announcement or give a lesson. Some easy techniques are to say “touch your nose (head, ears, etc.) if you can hear me,” “find who’s talking to you,” flashing the lights off and on, or counting down from 5. Older children and youth can help you make up their own signal words or motions. God gave you a voice to use for His glory, so don’t be shy. Raise your voice and project to everyone in the room— what you have to say is important and should be heard.  Process is more important than the product.  Encouragement is vital. Always use positive language when addressing young people. Be aware of your tone and body language and place yourself at the child/youth’s physical level.  Involve students by asking them questions, role playing, displaying visual aids, letting them touch and hold tactile lesson aids, and using other sensory activities and instructional strategies.  God made everyone different for a reason. We need to be flexible and do our best to adapt and accommodate different needs, learning styles, behaviors, and spiritual experience/backgrounds (or lack thereof). Working with Parents and Families  Support parents in their efforts and recognize their role as a child’s primary faith-shaper  Empower parents to lead  Work as partners with parents to give children the best opportunity possible to grow in spiritual maturity; communicate clearly and often.  Greeting procedures- please greet all students AND parents as they arrive. It is important that parents see a class or activity underway; this means one leader should be involved with the students once a group has assembled and leave the greeting/sign-in to the other leader. It is one of the few opportunities most parents have to observe our classes and activities.  ALWAYS share positive feedback with parents; they like to know they are not the only ones who can appreciate the special qualities of their child. Discipline  The word discipline comes from the same root as disciple, which means “follower” or “learner,” and is a positive promoter of spirituality, morality, and relational integrity according to Doug Fields of Saddleback Church. His excellent description refers to love and limits, grace and truth, affirmation and correction, and support and boundaries.  Expect good behavior and affirm positive choices. The old saying that you always get what you give attention to is true: the more you focus on negative choices the more you will get. Focus on complimenting and recognizing good choices and you will get more of those. Instead of saying “don’t” tell them what they SHOULD be doing.  Explain rules in a positive way and explain their purpose. “Johnny, we sit on the carpet so we stay safe,” rather than “Johnny, don’t climb on the table.” When people hear the word “no” over and over, they tend to stop listening. Make consequences known ahead of time and follow through. You have the support of the DCM and DYM in enforcing necessary consequences. We are a ministry that wants to help students learn, so if a student’s behavior is keeping others from learning and participating it is acceptable to return that student to the nursery or his or her parent until the student can participate in a reasonable manner.

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Discipline Policy for Children’s Ministries (As outlined in the Policy) The discipleship of children by the church is a sacred responsibility that we take very seriously. Part of that task is the fostering of environments conducive to learning. Therefore, a comprehensive discipline policy must be a part of our program. The following policy conforms to conference guidelines regarding the representatives of our church administering discipline to children during church sponsored activities. It is designed with the best interests of the leader, individual students, and classroom in mind. If a child is acting inappropriately during a children’s program, please follow these guidelines closely to correct their behavior and encourage positive involvement: 1.) At the outset of any activity, present this policy to the children so they are aware of the expectations placed upon them and the consequences if they disregard the rules. 2.) If a child is behaving inappropriately he/she will be individually called by name and given one verbal warning saying that the next time they are called out for their behavior they will be asked to sit out and their parents will be notified upon pick-up. 3.) If the action continues the child will be taken out of the activity and will sit in a chair for 5 minutes (Time-Out). 4.) The parent will be told at the activity why their child was asked to sit out. 5.) If the above steps are ineffective, children under the age of 5 will be taken to the nursery, and children over the age of 5 whose parents are on campus will be taken to their parents. Discipline Policy for Youth Ministries If a student causes a disturbance in ANY youth activity, they will be disciplined as follows. 1) The leader will give a verbal warning. 2) If the disturbance continues, they will be separated from the group or persons being disturbed. 3) The student will then be asked to sit out of whatever activity is being presented and the parents will be notified. 4) If the problem persists to this point, the parents will be called and the student will be picked up. *Under no circumstances will corporal punishment be administered by a children or youth activity leader. Any further questions about discipline should be directed to the DCM or DYM.

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POSITION DESCRIPTIONS and GUIDELINES All members of the Children and Youth Ministry Teams are expected to model appropriate Christian behavior at all times and to pray regularly for children, youth, families, and their place at FUMC. General Expectations for Children and Youth Classroom teachers/Activity leaders/Assistants/Attendants/Chaperones  Commit to regular program positions or specific special event objectives/positions  Volunteer for special events and programs as needed  Advocate for children and youth ministry within FUMC and the community  Attend training workshops and/or review appropriate related literature approximately two times per year or more as proposed by the DCM or DYM  Have a heart for children and youth and ability to actively engage them in purposeful activities that meet their needs, not ours  Build healthy, supportive relationships with children and youth and empower them in their spiritual journey  Have motivation to continuously improve personal understanding of child development, teaching techniques, and special accommodations to the benefit of our children  Be willing to share special talents  Take ownership of program purpose/ministry area and be dependable in fulfilling purpose objectives  Commit to regular attendance and responsibility for specified area  Prepare ahead of time for lessons and activities  Maintain safe and healthy learning environment  Use Best Practices for education, including frequent communication with parents/families  Follow all policies and procedures for their specific program Children’s Committee Chairperson (in addition to committee member expectations)  Set committee meeting times and notify members  Preside over committee meetings  Collaborate with DCM over agenda items prior to the meeting and write agenda to be handed out at the meeting Children’s Committee Member  Collaborate on strategic planning for children’s ministry area  Hold ministry accountable to purposes expressed in mission statement  Provide ideas and feedback on program designs and assure compliance with mission statement, child/youth protection policy, and financial resources  Support Children’s Ministry Team for special events and programs  Advocate for children’s ministry within FUMC and the community  Attend training workshops and/or review appropriate related literature approximately two times per year or more as proposed by the children’s ministry director Children’s Event Chairperson  Work with DCM and team members to produce event calendar  Lead team to plan and organize events including volunteer coordination, venue and rental reservations, supply purchasing and advertising.

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Youth Council Chairperson (in addition to committee member expectations)  Set committee meeting times and notify members  Preside over committee meetings  Collaborate with DYM over agenda items prior to the meeting and write agenda to be handed out at the meeting Youth Council Committee Member  Collaborate on strategic planning for youth ministry area  Hold ministry accountable to purposes expressed in mission statement  Provide ideas and feedback on program designs and assure compliance with mission statement, child/youth protection policy, and financial resources  Support Youth Ministry Team for special events and programs  Advocate for youth ministry within FUMC and the community  Attend training workshops and/or review appropriate related literature approximately two times per year or more as proposed by the youth ministry director

ACTIVITY DESCRIPTIONS and GUIDELINES NURSERY In addition to general expectations,  Wear appropriate attire in consideration that you will be bending and leaning over frequently  Limit cell phone usage to urgent matters; attention should be on the children. Arrival Arrive 15 minutes before Nursery is scheduled to open Preparation Check floors and equipment for cleanliness and safety—make sure there is nothing on the floor a child might pick up and put in their mouth. Make sure all materials are readily available for planned activities and crafts. Put clean sheets on the cribs. Children’s Arrival Greet children and parents at the door. All children MUST be signed in. Make sure all items left for each child are labeled and instructions are clear. Activity Time Periodically pick up toys so they do not become a safety hazard. Place all toys that children have put in their mouths in a container to be washed. Check children’s diapers at least once each hour. Snack Time Wash children’s hands before snack. All snacks and drinks must be consumed at the table. Clean up spills as they occur. Departure Make sure all children are signed out as they are dismissed to their caregivers. Put away all materials and toys (encourage any remaining children to assist with this task). Clean tops of tables and put chairs on tables to facilitate floor cleaning. Move large toys away from the walls. Remove sheets from cribs. Clean counters and sink in kitchenette area. Secure and lock rooms.

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CHILDREN’S SUNDAY SCHOOL Preparation Prepare lesson before Sunday morning and make sure all needed materials are ready and available. Ask God to guide you as you prepare a lesson/activity that will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. Arrive to Sunday School classroom/meeting area no later than 9:30am. Pray with other leaders. ALL preparations MUST be completed by 9:35am so that leaders will be available to greet children and parents. Arrival Greet each child by name as they enter. Sign child in on sign in sheet. Engage children in prepared gathering activity or with specified toys. (One leader can engage in play and activities with children while the other greets and signs children in.) During gathering time, have children decorate and sign cards for Loving Links (feel free to explain to the children what it is for and to pray for the recipients with the children) and place the cards on the table in the Blue Zone when finished. Lesson Begin group/story time promptly at 9:50am and follow with lesson/activity. Remember to engage children with questions, movement, and other appropriate techniques, and to include them in prayer. Dismissal If children have finished the lesson activity and are again engaged with toys or table play, make sure they clean up and put away what they are playing with before moving to another toy or being picked up. When a parent is present and a child has put away his/her toys, a leader must sign the child out on the sign in sheet and can dismiss the child to the parent.

WEDNESDAY EVENING CLASSES Preparation Maintain coordination with the DCM, DYM, and other Wednesday evening children and youth leaders and facilitators of topics to cover. Make sure that any needed materials are ready at least 15 minutes before class is set to begin. Arrival Leaders should gather participants in the Fellowship Hall at the conclusion of the Wednesday Fellowship supper. ALL participants under 5th grade need to be signed in on the clipboard BEFORE leaving the Fellowship Hall. Escort participants to the scheduled room where the class is to be held. Do not let anyone run, go before the leader, or let the group become separated. (Depending on the number of children and the weather, leader may escort participants for short period of free play or games before proceeding to class.) Program Provide planned lesson and activities in the time allotted. Encourage active participation of all students and try to keep them focused on the tasks at hand. Dismissal Children under 5th grade need to be signed out on the clipboard and parents must be present for child to be dismissed. Youth may be dismissed to meet their parents.

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CHILDREN’S MOMENT The DCM should send potential children’s moments and/or the lectionary verses for the week by email early in the week. CM leader may choose to use a sermon provided by the DCM or may come up with their own sermon based on the lectionary readings for that week. CM leader should have any necessary props and a copy or outline of general sermon points prepared in advance. Attend the 10:55am service and step forward to the microphone when directed by the bulletin. Always invite children ages 4 through 4th grade to join you, and direct them to the Children’s Church leader at the conclusion of the children’s moment.

CHILDREN’S CHURCH Preparation Have message prepared and printed and any necessary props or material on table in room, ready to be used. Exit Main Service Lead children out of the sanctuary through the door next to the chancel after the Children’s Moment. A rule of thumb is to have the first leader lead out the door with the second leader holding the door to ensure the door closes gently after all the children are out of the sanctuary. A leader must take attendance and sign in all children before proceeding. Do not let children run, go ahead of the leader, or let the group become separated. Children’s Service Leaders encourage and MODEL active worship. Play music for the children to worship to. Encourage dancing and singing. At conclusion of first worship portion, instruct children to join you on the floor in a circle. Deliver message, making sure to engage children and ask and answer questions. Ask children for joys and concerns, making sure the same child does not dominate the conversation. Pray out loud about the expressed concerns with the children and/or give them a moment for silent prayer. If you are doing an unfamiliar song, this is a good time to teach it. Feel free to use chart to write lyrics, draw clue pictures, and teach accompanying motions to help children learn lyrics. Play more worship songs or conclude with an activity that helps instill that day’s message. At the conclusion, have children circle up, join hands, and use the Lord’s Prayer or other familiar benediction. Return to Sanctuary Remind children of return procedures and how to be respectful of the service. Line up children according to the order in which you will dismiss them back to their parents. Return to the sanctuary through the north side door of the narthex. Stop group outside narthex door and dismiss (accompanied by leaders or youth helpers) children back into the sanctuary in an orderly manner, a few at a time. A leader must sign each child out on the sign in sheet as they witness the child return to his or her parent. When all children are sitting with their parents Children’s Church leaders may return to a seat in the sanctuary. **Remember to keep the Children’s Service concise on first Sundays so you can make it back to the sanctuary in time for communion. If you are late and most of the parents have already received communion, take the children with you through the line and to the altar rail to pray and take communion together.

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YOUTH SUNDAY SCHOOL Preparation Prepare lesson before Sunday morning and make sure all needed materials are ready and available. Prepare a lesson/activity that will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. Arrive to Sunday School classroom/meeting area no later than 9:30am. ALL preparations MUST be completed by 9:35am so that leaders will be available to greet students as they arrive. Breakfast (IF APPLICABLE) Prepare breakfast table before students arrive. Plug in any appliances that may be used and place food and drinks on the table. Make sure there are plates, silverware, and napkins. Lesson The lesson should begin no later than 9:50am and end at 10:40am. Remember to engage children with questions, open discussion, music, movement, and other appropriate techniques. Follow or deviate from given curriculum as often as deemed necessary. Dismissal and clean up Students who are members of the choir, acolytes, or part of the service in another way should leave at 10:30am and go to their respective places. Please employ all remaining students in cleaning up! Make sure all appliances are unplugged and all food is replaced to the kitchen. Any materials that were used during the lesson must be returned to their place on the bookshelves. All students should be out of the youth area by 10:45am and encouraged to stay for the 10:55am service.

METHODIST YOUTH FELLOWSHIP (MYF)- WEDNESDAYS, 6:15-7:30 PM Preparation Prepare daily theme/lesson before Sunday and make sure all needed materials are ready and available. Prepare a lesson and/or activity ahead of time. Arrival and Lunch Most students will already be in church. Make sure lunch has been prepared. As students arrive, give them the opportunity to mingle and hang out. Once most or everyone has arrived, have a youth member bless the food and eat lunch. Youth may only eat in the café. Make sure all trash has been cleaned up before moving on to the next activity. Lesson/Activity Start a recap from Youth Sunday School or the worship service. For those in a different Sunday school class, ask them to give you a recap of their own or make sure to include them in another way. Always use positive reinforcement or rewards for answering tough questions. Plan an informative lesson and/or that focuses on the daily theme and engages students in fellowship. Encourage all members to participate. Prayer and Dismissal Before breaking for free time or before students leave, circle up for prayer. As a group, recite the Apostles Creed. Ask if anyone has any praise or prayer concerns that they would like to lift up to the Lord. Ask a student to pray or the leader can pray for the group. To finish, recite the Lord’s Prayer. If there is still time left, have some free time to play games and fellowship with each other. Make sure all students leave with a parent or leave in their own vehicle.

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YOUTH CHAPERONES Daytime Youth Chaperone Arrive at the meeting area at least 15 minutes prior to the given meeting time. Consult with DYM over the itinerary and objectives of the day. Understand your role as a chaperone at that particular event and what your duties are throughout the event. Uphold all disciplinary procedures for on church campus, as well as additional for off campus (if applicable). Off- campus When going off campus, students represent themselves, the youth group, FUMC, The United Methodist Church, and above all, God. They are expected to be on their best behavior at all times and exemplify Christianity in a positive manner. NO PDA (Public Display of Affection OR Anger). Bus rules: When riding the bus, all riders must: Use inside voices Stay in seats Wear a seatbelt Keep bags out of the aisle No food or drink unless otherwise instructed by the DYM Overnight Youth Chaperone (in addition to Daytime Youth Chaperone) Students are allowed to stay awake as long as the DYM specifies. Uphold all overnight rules designated by the DYM and discipline when necessary. The DYM will indicate what rooms are specified for females, and for males. When going to sleep, students must ONLY sleep in their designated room unless allowed otherwise by the DYM ONLY. Unless housed in hotel style rooms, a chaperone of the same gender will be assigned to each room. That chaperone must stay in that room at all times unless otherwise noted. If put up in hotel style rooms, chaperones will be housed together and will be assigned student rooms to oversee. Each student room will have their chaperone information and phone numbers in case of an emergency. Individual trips may differ, so refer to the trip itinerary in advance of an event for additional rules, regulations, and/or directions.

YOUTH DRIVING POLICY If a youth member has a state issued Class E or above driver’s license, they may be permitted to drive to and from youth events in their personal vehicle. Always remind him/her of the laws of the road and to always be careful. If the DYM or other youth leader is aware of a youth member driving other youth members, be sure that the passenger and driver’s parents/guardians are informed of this. A youth member is NOT permitted to drive: If they do not have a license If they have a state issued permit (unless with a parent/guardian above 21 years of age) During a youth event. To and from youth events If a student is legally of driving age with a license, they may drive to and from youth events in their own vehicle. ALWAYS encourage safe driving habits and never allow another youth to ride in the car with them without parental permission.

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