After School Programs: Church Based – What At-Risk Kids Receive From Secondary Nurturers

Third in series on “What At Risk Kids Need.”

Last week we looked at the training that Secondary Nurturers need in order to be equipped so the kids will receive the following.

  • The truth of Jesus Christ taught at a level the child can understand and receive.
    • No false promises.
    • Learns Jesus has a purpose for every-thing that happens.  Our challenge is to not waste the pain.
    • The vulnerability and honesty of the SN in sharing Christ leads the child to discover the immense love of Jesus.
    • The challenge to know God and know His power.
    • Insight into how biblical truth can be applied in all areas of life.
  • Learns the power of prayer.
    • As a 12 year old, Jamal couldn’t read.  His SN asked Kim if she would pray for Jamal each day.  In return, the SN asked Jamal to pray for Kim. His response, “I’ve never done anything like that, but I’ll try.”  The following week his school teacher moved him into a remedial phonics program.  In two weeks he was reading everything.  (There was a follow-up discussion with Jamal that God doesn’t always answer in this way.)
    • Jamal also learned it isn’t just about him.  Kim, a suburban mother had pain for which she also needed prayer.
  • Learns how to function as a member of the body of Christ.
  • Development of critical thinking skills.
    • Kids receive specially designed “money” for attendance, bringing homework, behavior, participation, etc.  They learn how to write checks, deposit money in the “bank,” and tithe.  They have the opportunity to purchase items in the store each week.  Store items may be food, hygiene items, toys, books, games, potential gift items.  Kids “pay” to attend all activities outside of the center.
    • Tyrone was looking forward to purchasing the Lego Prehistoric Creatures today.  He had been saving his “money” for months. As he approached the store, the center director asked him, “Tyrone, have you bought your ticket for our trip to the snow next weekend?”  “No” came the reply.  “Do you want to go to the snow?” the director asked.  “Yes” Tyrone smiled.  “You better buy your ticket today or you won’t be able to go,” the director suggested.  “But I wanted to buy the Legos I’ve been saving for, and if I get my ticket I won’t have enough money for the Legos.  Will you loan me some money?”  The director laughed and told him the KidTrek Bank didn’t make loans.  The director helped Tyrone go through the process of critically thinking how the outcome would differ if he didn’t buy his ticket that day.  Yes, he would have to wait for the Legos, but they would still be there when he had earned more money; if he put off buying his ticket, he would miss the snow trip, and there wouldn’t be another one this year.
  • The opportunity to deal with delayed gratification.
  • Instruction in all aspects of handling money.
  • The opportunity to make and act on responsible choices.
  • A respect for education.
  • A vision for the future.
  • The opportunity to have meaningful conversation around a meal several times a week.
  • An education.
    • Most times it will be homework assistance and tutoring that is needed,  supplementing the school experience
    • One child was not able to learn at school due to learning disabilities.  The SN  began to home school her.  It has made a huge difference in the life of this preteen.
  • Development of a work ethic.
    • Learns not to expect to receive without working for something.
    • Learns chores and responsibilities are a normal part of life.
  • Opportunities to deal with feelings in a responsible manner.
  • Instruction in basic life skills – eating in a restaurant, making a bed, washing clothes, how to use a bathroom, etc.
  • Guidance in healthy manner of receiving criticism/correction.
  • A faithful adult willing to walk through stages of Trust, Autonomy, Initiative, Industry, and Identity.
  • Understanding that life does not appear fair today (Psalm 73) because we do not know how God is at work.
    • We cannot compare ourselves with others; we must walk the path God has called us to walk – Galatians 6: 4 & 5.
  • Understanding that feelings can be deceptive.
    • Learns how to handle feelings.
    • Learns importance of taking feelings to Source of all Truth.
  • Hope as adults, primary-nurturer/secondary-nurturer/Service Partners, work together to improve the family’s life situation.
  • Vision of a future that can be his/hers – unique to the individual kid.

The following is from a Secondary-Nurturer who has walked through life with her kids for the last four years.  She has had a lot of ups and downs, but remained faithful. She has gotten up early to take a dad to work when his car broke down; she has looked for kids on the streets when they weren’t showing up; she made her home a refuge for kids.  She ministers not only to the five kids with whom she works; she also ministers to mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents. They know she is someone to trust.

We tell the kids that everything they learn, whether knowledge or skill, is something they will need to draw upon later in life. I don’t think they understand or believe this.

Last week Blanca and Henry interviewed for their first part-time job. It is only for three weeks but it is with the city helping weed and clean up the parks. The money comes from a grant for low-income kids. They both commented on how easy the interview was, basically if you show up you get the job.  I explained to them how often kids in the neighborhood don’t show up for jobs and that is why they have the pre-interview to see who is serious about work.  Two years ago, we helped a kid we know get one of these jobs, but he only showed up twice. He is almost 18 and has yet to finish anything.

I reminded them of the kids who showed up for the interview looking scared.  Blanca and Henry have had the advantage of public speaking and working with our drama teacher. The kids and parents give me a hard time about being early or on time.  At their interviews the kids were asked about whether they could be counted on to be on time. It reminded them that maybe I am not crazy after all.

Then they were asked what kind of skills they had with garden and wood tools.  Blanca and Henry have worked with me in my garden, worked with rose bushes, and removed rocks from my garden. They also have learned about wood working. In the interview they had some great experiences to share. The average inner city kid doesn’t have these experiences, nor do they have the work ethic developed like Blanca and Henry.

In my world, those are huge things, though often taken for granted because they are just part of being a productive adult. In the inner city they are huge because these are typically learned during childhood, and they fail as adults without them.

When I first started in ministry I thought the goal was to raise good, godly kids; now I realize the goal is to raise great and godly adults. This is a huge difference. You can have good kids but that doesn’t mean they will be prepared for adulthood or be great and godly adults. We have to look beyond the now and look for positive outcomes.

What are we teaching them that will make their generation different from their ancestors?





4 responses to “After School Programs: Church Based – What At-Risk Kids Receive From Secondary Nurturers

  1. Pingback: After School: Church Based – A Little More on Secondary Nurturers | KidTrek – After School Programs

  2. Pingback: After School Programs: Church Based – At-Risk Kids Need Secondary Nurturers | KidTrek – After School Programs

  3. Pingback: Christian After School Ministries – Social Support System | KidTrek – After School Programs

  4. Pingback: Church Based After School Ministry: Walking Through Life with Parents | KidTrek – After School Programs

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