Kids Clubs, Sunday Schools, Playgroups and COVID

In recent weeks there has been a whole bunch of new opportunities open up around COVID-19. With Children back at school and community groups meeting the question are being raised about Sunday Schools, Playgroups and Kids Clubs.

Schools have an imperative to provide a safe place for their staff and students they also have the infrastructure, access to resources and paid cleaners to see that the high levels of hygiene are met. The church whilst having the same expectation around COVID and safety often do not have the infrastructure to support these expectations. For example, things like toilets must be cleaned regularly, and all areas that are touched must be cleaned and disinfected after every use. A record needs to be kept of all people who have come in and out of the space, just to name a few.

Children and young people are in a lower risk category yet they still have the ability to transmit the disease, so hygiene and social/physical distancing are essential during these times. But you know kids this isn’t so easy! You might need to be really creative about how to work with this!

It is essential at these times that when leading a group your Church Council knows and has agreed to what is happening with your groups for insurance purposes. But more than that, the Council offers another collection of eyes to help you see what you may have missed.  Any groups that meet physically need a COVID plan, that is approved by Church Council and sent into the Presbytery and Synod.

Don’t forget that you still need to adhere to Safe Church Protocol with leadership requirements and that those leaders and volunteers are included in the number allocated in this space. Check my article on Questions to ask about groups and COVID for more information.

Kids Clubs, Sunday Schools and Play groups

As with all groups there needs to be a COVID plan. This is not easy with young children. I have written an article about Worship and Children for more alternatives for Sunday School.

Some ideas of what you can do:

Create individual packs: This could work for worship as well.  Set up work spaces with a distance between children. So if you are doing playdough, each child gets their own  playdough, rolling pin and cutters. When they are finished make sure you clean thoroughly. Create boxes that have landscapes that can be added to each week, ie, the creation story. They could make items out of clay, or collage.

Where possible go outside: Maybe you could have a treasure hunt in the garden, or visit the local community garden and smell all the plants in it. Have an insect hunt, and then the children can draw the insects they find.

Dancing with actions: Pick some songs that require lots of actions, get the kids with their parents in big lines or a large circle to do the actions. (make sure you highlight the dancing part rather than the singing part!). Get the kids to make their own musical instruments and play them to a song. Dan Warlow has a couple of great ones, you can check out his music at our Pulse party on Facebook.

Col Buchanan is another favourite.

Snack Music is also an Australian Christian kids band that is worth checking out.

Get creative with the kids favourite games: How can you adapt the kids favourite games into a Covid safe option? At my daughters school they have adapted Heads Down Thumbs Up to Heads Down Feet out so rather than touching hands you are using feet to touch. Flour Bomb Capture the flag, instead of tipping you have to throw the flour bomb at them, if you hit them they end up in gaol if they are caught breaking social distancing, in goal. Gaol could be a series of seats set a wide distance apart. What problem solving games can they do that requires them to work together without necessarily touching each other? We would love to hear your ideas.

Food: Of course hand washing / sanitizing is essential. Food is an important part of building community, it gives us time to sit and be together, making space to really be present together. What are some other ways you could be present, lay on the ground and look at the clouds and talk about your favourite thing you can see in clouds and why?

If you are going to eat together, provide people with individual servings of the snacks and drinks or get people to bring their own. If you are going to serve, have everyone have their own plate and one person puts things on their plate with a set of tongs or serving spoon or ladle.

These are difficult times and it can be hard to know how best to support our children. Make a plan, get it approved and make sure everyone knows about it and sticks to it!

This may not go as well as you had hoped with children returning, people are still worried and wary. Remember this is not your group it is God’s trust that the right people who need to be there will be there at the right time. Your efforts are like the perfume offered to Jesus by the woman before he died. It is the gift you offer to God that matters.

Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.

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