Obviously I’m not going to tell you their real names.  I respect their privacy.  However, to understand the challenges this class faces you need to know a little bit about them.

Three of these girls have no contact with their father.  Two of these girls have no paternal prescence at all.  One of these girls has a step-father who seems less than supportive of the rest of her family’s involvment with the church.  As near as I can tell, none of the girls has a Sealed family. 

First is Anna, age 7.  Too young for the class but the other class available is the Sunbeams.  She used to refuse to read even the shortest verse but recently she volunteered and read her way through a good chunk.  I made sure to praise her.

Lynette is 8 and the bossiest little thing you’ve ever seen.  She loves new ideas and projects and always volunteers to give a prayer.

Sharice is 9.  We actually haven’t seen her in a while.  It seems she’s going to a different church now but I can’t find out if it’s a different church or just a different ward.

Natalie is 10 and struggling with a number of challenges.  She seems quiet and sensitive when she’s on her own and understands gospel principles easily.

Class time and issues: 

I had Natalie by herself again recently.  Fortunately I noticed the lack of the other girls in time to rethink my lesson.  Instead of retelling the scripture story myself, a tactic I had chosen before because of how varied the girls’ reading levels are, I selected out the most relevant verses (which were still a lot) and had her read them instead.  This made for a very quiet lesson but one in which I think she was more engaged.  I think I rather like having her one-on-one; I just wish I knew the class size in advance so I could really make the most of each situation.

I made an accidental discovery a few weeks ago.  The attention activity had had me make a ring out of paper.  Once it had served its purpose it ended up broken into pieces and I, deciding it wasn’t worth fighting the girls over, let them play with the pieces.  While there were still issues (like Natalie and Lynette bolting from the room to yell at the boys who kept banging on the wall our classrooms share) the girls were the quietest and most attentive I’ve seen them in a long time.  I am sorely tempted to teach them to knit.  I discovered in University that with my hands busy making a friendship bracelet it was easier to focus on what my professors were saying and it would be nice if the same principle applied to my Sunday School class.

That said though, I don’t have the materials and I can’t afford to buy them.  Oh, the things I would do for those girls if I had the money!  I want to make a sign for the room.  I want to get a nice picture of Jesus and a nice picture of the temple and hang them on the walls.  I want to make a window for each girl.  Not a real window but a nice picture of some place that makes them feel peaceful and happy.  A curtain for the window we do have would be nice.  It’s huge and looks into the hallway.  The girls are always getting distracted by someone walking by.  I’d also like some colored pencils or some such for making the class materials.  When I was Coordinator of the Kids’ Program at Nova, I always printed out the new flashcards, colored them in, glued them to card stock and laminated them (usually this meant covering them with clear packing tape) because I believe that students can sense the effort you’ve put into class.

I think I’ll ask the primary leader if we have a budget that can help.