children in fancy dress

Video: Building brains with the under 5s

Published: Tuesday March 28, 2023

A group building a brain from straws and pipecleanersWork with children under 5 and their families is a thriving area of ministry in the Diocese of Gloucester. Around 100 people from different worshipping communities came along to the Under 5s and Flourishing day, to learn together and share ideas.

Bishop Rachel talked about the importance of this area of ministry in her message to the diocese last week, saying that “creating spaces for under fives and their parents and carers is one of the most significant things we offer as followers of Christ.”

The keynote speakers were Louise Dalton and Elizabeth Rapa from The Oxford Brain Story who explained how the first 1001 days of a children’s life (pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life) can help build strong brain foundations.

Attendees got the chance to ‘build a brain’, using straws and pipe cleaners, seeing how genetics, environment, and life experiences combine to impact how our brains are built and to consider how our children’s ministry can help give support to improve resilience in later life.

The experiences that we have as a child have a huge impact on our adult life – we were all children once, so an awareness of how our childhoods affect us is extremely helpful.

“It’s encouraging to think that even though a child has had a really bad start in life, that with the right intervention, they can actually make a success of their life and we can turn around some of the bad things.” Sandy, Christchurch.

There were sessions considering how we can make our churches and groups more inclusive for neurodiverse people, sessions on using music in our toddler groups to practice important life skills, build relationships and have fun. Being distinctively Christian in our toddler groups was also explored.

People from a range of different denominations and worshipping communities left the event inspired and excited to put the things they had learned into practice. All the participants were sent away with a conference goody bag containing the fantastic new Table Talk for Early Years resource from UDC and resources from Care for the Family. Bishop Rachel affirmed everyone in their calling to work alongside children and families, acknowledging the work of their hands and offering a blessing while everyone used a gift of hand cream to massage their hands.

“It was brilliant – I want to do so much more when we return.” Pat, Lydney.

If you’d like to be part of this growing network of people, sign up for the Children, Youth and Families Newsletter here –>

We want to hear about what’s happening in your area. Send your stories about ministry with the under 5s to ku.gr1716982988o.coi1716982988dsolg1716982988@newo1716982988k1716982988


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