Copley & Parish Hall
Working with the Parents and Toddler Groups
by Wilma MacGregor
All Saints' Church Parent and Toddler groups have been a meeting place for families in and around the Parish for many years. The vision we have is to see the church brought into the community and for Christ's love to be shown to everyone, regardless of faith.
The groups are run by volunteers from All Saints' Church, or people who have an association with the church, many being Mothers' Union members. The Parent and Toddler groups have been affiliated to the Mothers' Union since 2003, and are known as an 'Action & Outreach' group. This has led to a closer association with the MU branch at All Saints' Church, and also means that we can be involved in deciding which local project to support financially when it is our turn in Halifax.
There are three Parent and Toddler group sessions each week during term time: Tuesday morning 09.30 -11.30am; Tuesday afternoon 12.30 - 2.15pm at All Saints' Parish Hall in Godfrey Road, and Wednesday morning 09.30 -11.30am in the Old Rishworthians' Rugby Club in Copley village.
During 2004 we found the numbers coming to the Tuesday morning group had grown so much, that in November 2004, after much prayer and planning, we started a third session, which now runs on Tuesday afternoons, The numbers at both of these groups remains high, with a limit of 35 children per session, so a waiting list has been in place for the past two years at the Tuesday morning group, which remains the most popular.
The numbers at The Copley group have fluctuated over the years, but new housing and many young families moving into the area means that numbers are rising again.
The arrival of a new baby brings many changes to the lives of it's parents. Going from full time work to full time parenthood can be a difficult adjustment, and the friendship and support from other parents during a child's early years are important often lasting a lifetime.
A typical session lasts approximately two hours. The children have a wide variety of toys and equipment to play with and explore. There is usually a 'messy' table where the children can paint, stick and be creative with play dough. Half way through the session, we gather round to sing together using our song box which is full of lots of surprises. Then all the children are encouraged to sit at the table for a drink of juice and a biscuit, while the parents can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a chat.
We celebrate Easter and Christmas with a short Christian service of nursery rhyme type songs, prayers and puppets to tell the story. This year we have had visiting 'Puppets for Jesus' who have captivated the children's attention; it was a joy to see.
During the last two years we have run five Saturday morning sessions called 'Who let the Dad's out!' These are aimed at getting dads, granddads and male carers together to enjoy a session with their babies and toddlers. These have been very successful, (not least because of the bacon butties!) as many dads have to work during the week and often don't get to know other dads in their community. Due to demand, we hope to increase the number of these sessions next year.
Our retired volunteers enjoy interacting with the parents, keeping active and being in a routine, as well as having the enjoyment of watching the children play.
Many of our parents have expressed their appreciation of 'just having some adult conversation' or 'getting out of the house' for a few hours, especially those who don't have the support of family living nearby.
We thank God for the privilege of being able to serve our community in what we believe to be a vital service for young families.
Paula Straw runs the Tuesday afternoon Toddler group and the Wednesday group in Copley
See and Know
Isaiah 41:20 says: "That they may 'SEE AND KNOW', may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this."
'See and Know' is part of the children's ministry to the babies and toddlers, aged 0-3years, in our crèche. It centres on teaching basic Christian truths through song, using repetition which small children respond to and enjoy. Following the same pattern each session, a bell is rung to gain attention, singing to welcome everyone, and to remind us that God is with us. Each child is welcomed by name, through song, and the Bible is introduced, each child getting a small Bible to hold (or chew!). The teaching is interspersed with singing in nursery rhyme type songs with an accompanying visual aid - something to see, hear, touch, taste or smell! A craft activity is included so that each child may take home a visual reminder of the theme, or Bible story for that day.
Parents are encouraged to join in, but are welcome to leave older toddlers with the helpers if settled.
All Saints' Crèche by Wilma MacGregor