Prayer teams are one of the best things that my community teaching partner and I have introduced and developed. The concept isn't new at all. We have adapted a few things as teachers do and cannot believe how amazing these little kids do with the prayer space. They have created some truly beautiful prayer space and have the setting up and packing up down to an art. I could not be prouder of them. You may have some great tips and strategies to share with us as well. Here are a few things that I think strengthened our teams:
1. Have clear expectations of how the space needs to be treated: my team teacher and I have been crystal clear from the start that this is a ritual act that needs to be treated seriously. It is an important job and that means it needs to be treated with respect. W spent a lot of time modelling how to set up the space.
2. The materials need to be treated with the utmost care and respect: we focussed on how each item that they prayer team has access to needs to be treated and handled with care. This included even how the cloths need to be treated. It is amazing to see 6-8 years old fold silk cloths like a seasoned expert. We haven't had any broken objects in the two years since we started this.
3. Make them the experts: it has become a job of tradition in the community. Each new prayer team sets that standard and the one after follows. The children become the teachers and they show others what needs to be done and how. Some days when I sit back and watch the handover between these teams, I am amazed at the level of expertise. The kid talk about church seasons, folding cloths, placing appropriate items. When you have a few of the same children the next year, the tradition is continued. Even getting kids who have changed grades to come back and share knowledge helps.
4. Encourage creativity: some of the ideas that kids have blows me away. There placement of items, selection of objects and visually design on the floor is stunning some days. As soon as kids have the freedom to create, each group seems to bring something new and it keeps the space inviting and exciting.
5. Get all the kids to watch how the prayer team packs up and where they place items: after we do our gratitudes, we always get the community to watch as the prayer team packs up. It creates a sense of ritual and shows how items are treated with respect. It also seems to create a sense of togetherness and that we are all responsible for our prayer space.
Prayer teams are a wonderful way to help develop a sense of faith responsibility among students. It gives them a sense of pride in their faith and encouraged participation in prayer. I hope that these few tips help people to strengthen their prayer teams. The thing that gives me the most joy is watching the sense of teamwork and pride that kids show in their faith.