Rules vs. Guidelines
For the safety of the children in our care here at Westside, we have rules that help create spaces that are safe and environments that lend toward the spiritual development of little ones. We also have guidelines that help create best practices to do the same. It’s important as a leader in the Early Childhood Ministry to understand the difference between a rule and a guideline as well as how they are applied.
Rule /ro͞ol/ (n.): one of a set of explicit or understood regulations governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.
An example of a rule at Westside; every adult working with or around children must have a current (less than 2 years old) background check on file.
Guideline /ɡīdˌlīn/ (n.): a recommended practice that allows some discretion or leeway in its interpretation, implementation, or use.
An example of a guideline at Westside; Parents are encouraged to remain in the hallway, not entering the classroom at dropoff or pickup.
A rule, we will never bend from. No exceptions. A guideline we will aim for, understanding that different situations will influence both its interpretation and implementation!
Let me go into greater detail concerning the example of our guideline above that says Parents should remain in the hallway at dropoff/pickup. This guideline was created because it is our experience that the fewer interruptions at the door and in the classroom, the better the energy in the room and with the kids lending toward the best environment in which to minister to little ones. With that said, there are exceptions, some that create opportunities for deeper & wider ministry!
Our mission in Early Childhood Ministry is to partner with parents to make a first impression of our Heavenly Father in such a way that we make a lasting impression on the heart of a child. We want to build trusting relationships with kids AND their parents. First time visitors or even parents of a child experiencing separation anxiety may not be comfortable dropping their child off without helping their child become settled in the room. We want to encourage them and help to eliminate any fears they may have. Inviting them into the room to experience the exceptional level of care and guidance could reassure both the parents and an apprehensive child. It also gives us the opportunity to show off our environments, our curriculum and YOU, the best part of our ministry!
Your coach and/or team leader is always available to answer any questions you may have, particularly when it comes to understanding and implementing rules and guidelines. Thank you for continuing to make church a fun and safe place for kids (and their parents) to know that God made them, God loves them, and Jesus wants to be their friend forever.