If you have spent any time with me, you have probably heard me say “If You Don’t Love Kids….Get Another Job!”
The thing is kids bond to people, not programs. The number one responsibility of an after school staff member is to build relationships. The number one job of an after school staff member is to love and be loveable. Children have enough adults in their lives who don’t even like being around them, don’t believe in them, and quite frankly don’t want them around. We cannot be one of those.
And the kids know if we care because they miss nothing. They know if we are wearing new shoes, finger nail polish, have a new haircut. They know the cars we drive, the ring tones on our phones, they know who is calling. They know what fast food restaurants we frequent and what we order when we go there. They know which staff members we do and don’t get along with. And we never had this conversation.
We can have the most “state-of-the-art” facility.
Our basketball courts are made of hardwood, the rims are still level, and there are nets attached. The basketballs we use are round and have texture so they can be spun. All this is well and good, but if the staff is made of adults who don’t love kids, the kids will come…once…steal the basketballs and never come again.
The opposite is also true. We can have what I call the Van Gough building. You know the kind of structure that is being held together by the paint. (Vincent was so poor he could not afford new canvasses and painted one painting on top of another.) In the corners, there is a “rainbow” of colors someone decided to return to the local hardware store and your program got them for a “discounted” price. And our idea of fitness equipment…broom handle, newspaper, and duct tape! But if our staff genuinely cares for the kids, they will come….they might even gift us the basketballs from the other facility. (Which we will promptly return to their owners. 🙂 )
I often gift super balls to those who train with me. I do this for two reasons.
First, tying our learning to something physical, helps us remember it. It is the reason we buy souvenirs. Secondly, I think they are a great way to show both the attitude we need towards our children and the two main ways we can support their journey to realizing their dreams. You see, super balls are raw potential. Every time, I bring out my plastic bucket of 200+ super balls, I get “oooo’s and ahhh’s from the group. We look at that bucket and think “Wow, those could go almost anywhere!”. This is the attitude we need to show towards our kids. And how does a super ball reach its potential…by us giving it direction and energy. If we invest in our energy in our children and provide direction to help them make good choices, they will reach their potential. But first, we must build a relationship, for, without this, there is no significant learning (Connor). And if you don’t love kids….
Breakfast this morning consisted of a wonderful egg sandwich made with a couple of eggs from my amazing chickens. Such a nice gift they give me…and oh yeah, and a couple of “C’s”…coffee and cranberry juice.
Author Profile: @gkgorke