Funny things children say at Christmas

The funny things children say at Christmas according to the Daily Mail

What gifts did the three wise men bring?

  • Rebecca, 5, Merchant Taylors: “They brought Jesus gold and myrrh but I would have brought him a nice warm blanket.”
  • William, 7, Merchant Taylors: “I don’t know what presents the wise men brought Jesus but a Lego set would have been better.”
  • Ellie, 5, Broomhill Infants: “The three wise men brought Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh – no real presents. I feel sorry for him.”
  • Ellie, 6, Merchant Taylors: “When he was born three kings brought him gold, coins and a sheep.”

Who was the angel Gabriel?

  • Erin, 6, Broomhill Infants: “The Angel Gabriel is a big white fairy. He helped Mary and Joseph look after the baby – kind of like a doctor.”
  • Jay, 5, Broomhill Infants: “There was also an angel called Gabriel, whose favourite thing was to fly around all day.”
  • Molly, 6, Broomhill Infants: “Angel Gabriel was also there and he has yellow wings and a white costume.”
  • Katherine, 9, from St James’ Church of England Primary School, Weybridge, Surrey: “Gabriel was this herald angel. He was a boy but he’s played by a girl in Christmas plays.”

Why do we celebrate Christmas?

  • Ellyshia, 9, St James’ Primary: “I am not really a Christian. I believe in unicorns and pixies.”
  • Ben, 7, Broad Oak: “We celebrate Christmas because Santa comes and gives us lots and lots of presents.”

Where was Jesus born?

  • Charlie, 4, Broomhill Infants: “He was born in a stable a long way away from here in another country. Bethlehem – it’s in England.”
  • Erin, 6, Broomhill Infants: “Jesus was born in the stable – it had lots of hairs.”

Christmas all-age and youth talks

Here’s some of my favourite Christmas and Christingle talks I have done over the years:

Christmas talk: Chocolate Brussels Sprouts

This is my favourite Christmas talk – Chocolate Sprouts – I’ve used this in assemblies, carol services, across the age ranges.

Preparation

  • Boil the Brussels Sprouts (make sure they’re not too soft) and stick them in the fridge overnight.
  • Next morning, melt the chocolate and dip the sprouts in so that they look like truffles.  Let them set on a baking tray, then put them in small cake cases and sprinkle them with cocoa powder.

Talk

At the start of the talk, announce that you love Christmas so much, that you want to share it with everybody, and that what you have with you is something that will always remind them of Christmas day – delicious truffles!

Ask for a couple of volunteers to see if they can emulate Christmas day, by eating as many truffles as they can in 1 minute.  Build up the expectation and emphasise the need for speed in the challenge.

Once the young people start eating the ‘truffles’, they’ll realise that there’s something not quite right and their facial expressions will change from ones of sheer delight, to ones of outright disgust a they discover the sprouts. (You may want to have a plastic bag handy at this point!)

OK, so it’s a bit revolting, but here’s the point.

Ask the young people who loves chocolate, and also, who loves sprouts.

Say that Christmas, for most of us is a time of celebration, indulgence and happiness.  We love the ‘niceness’ of the Christmas season. It’s a bit like chocolate!

Go on to say that for many people, Christmas is not an easy time. For some it’s a time of loneliness, homelessness and struggle. For many people, Christmas is like our experience of sprouts – something to struggle through.

You could mention the first Christmas as an example. Mary was blessed with the news that she was to be the mother of God’s son, but probably struggled with knowing that her life could be in danger because of her pregnancy.  A classic Eastenders storyline!

Challenge the young people to consider how they spend Christmas – to be grateful for the Christmas they have, and to be mindful of those who will struggle through Christmas.

Prayer

May our lives and our prayers be like lights shining in dark places.  And may the blessing of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – fill our hearts and homes with light this Christmas and in the new year to come.  Amen.

Best children’s Christmas story book

One of my favourite resources for the Christmas season is Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan.

Nicholas Allan writes and illustrates the nativity through the eyes of a grumpy inn keeper who is unexpectedly at the centre of Jesus’ birth.  The story follows him as he is woken up repeatedly by Mary and Joseph and guests visiting the newborn.

I first heard of the book when I was a child and it was used for a Sunday School drama to present the Christmas narrative to the whole church.  As a children’s and youth worker I’ve used it numerous times, be it with young pre-school children, older teenagers, or non-Christian adults.  The book is easy for people to follow and join in, and yet still allows for profounds truths to be taught.

It can be bought in a number of sizes – from A6 just to fit in the pocket and use to tell a large group of people, to a large A4 size which a class of children can crowd around and look at the pictures.

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Commission on Religious Education

The Commission on Religious Education has published its final report.

The Final Report of the Commission on Religious Education, Religion and Worldviews: the way forward.  A national plan for RE, has been published. It sets out a National Plan for RE comprising of 11 recommendations, and calls on the Government to consider and adopt it.

The National Plan is built around a National Entitlement which sets out what all pupils up to the end of Year 11, in all publicly funded schools, should be entitled to be taught.  The National Entitlement reflects a new and inclusive vision for the subject, fully embracing the diversity and richness of religious and non-religious worldviews.  It will ensure a strong academic basis for the subject in all schools.  The National Plan provides for flexibility of approach in the translation of the National Entitlement into programmes of study in schools, ensuring that Headteachers are able to choose the approach that is most appropriate for their pupils.

There is a long and detailed Press Release which gives all the background information.  There is both the Full Report and an Executive Summary.

Responding to the publication of the Commission on Religious Education’s Final Report, The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, said:

“This report calls for a new vision for Religious Education (RE) which is vital if we are to equip children for life in the modern world where religion and belief play such important roles. It is also timely given the falling numbers of students taking RE at GCSE and A level following the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc).

“The report articulates well the need to recruit and train RE teachers who are resourced and supported effectively. It also makes significant recommendations for structural change in the way RE is determined. Today, most people’s experience of religion and belief is national and global, so we support the move away from a local determination of the subject. We believe this will help pupils make sense of religion and belief as it is lived today and this proposed change is educationally valid and would bring RE into line with all other curriculum subjects.

“We fully support the policy of developing a Statement of Entitlement to RE and are pleased to see the Commission endorsing an approach which we already use in Church of England schools. However, the Commission’s proposed Statement of Entitlement requires further work if it is to ensure that children and young people develop religious and theological literacy as part of their knowledge and understanding. We look forward to playing our part in working with the education community to achieve this and building an irresistible consensus of agreement about the subject.

Other media reports include:

Children and young people’s mental health: focus group research

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in England has published findings from focus group research carried out to understand the views of children and young people, parents and carers, and professionals on the proposals in ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper’.

The student insight report, carried out by Young Minds, looks at the views of 55 young people aged 11-18 across England. Findings show that they were broadly in favour of the core three proposals but felt that there needed to be an additional focus within the new approach around causes of ill mental health amongst young people.

Youth Access looked at the views of 11-15 year olds and 16-25 year olds. Findings include: participants were generally positive about the proposals; they had concerns that the needs of many groups of young people would not be met in its current form including those not willing or able to access support in a school setting; many felt that the green paper did not go far enough in acknowledging some of the root causes of young people’s mental health issues.

The National Children’s Bureau reported on the views of over 80 professionals and parents. Findings include: the green paper proposals were broadly welcomed but that further consideration should be given to ensuring children in the early years develop well emotionally and are prepared for the transition into school; and better continuity of care for young people with mental health conditions transitioning to adult services.

Home Office #knifefree lesson plans for KS3&4

The PSHE Association are launching new PSHE education lessons today that they’ve developed to challenge the myths and communicate the realities of carrying a knife to secondary school students, using the Home Office #knifefree campaign as stimulus for discussion.

The free-to-download lessons – one for key stage 3 and one for key stage 4 – will inform young people of the consequences of carrying a knife and inspire them to pursue positive alternatives, using real life stories of young people’s experiences as a basis. Accompanying teacher guidance will help you plan the lessons into your PSHE curriculum safely and effectively.

Well-planned and delivered PSHE education provides an ideal context for this learning, as the subject develops knowledge and understanding of key concepts such as risk, identity and power, and skills relating to decision making and managing peer influence. These lessons are therefore best suited for delivery alongside topics exploring personal safety or gang crime.

The lessons aim to help students to:

  • Recognise and evaluate the risks of carrying a knife
  • Challenge common misconceptions about knife crime
  • Develop strategies to manage peer influence to carry a knife
  • Explore how young people can choose to live knife free and achieve their potential

Download the resources:

Anti-bullying strategies for young people

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published advice and guidance for schools and education authorities on how to address bullying in schools with a focus on using data to improve anti-bullying strategies. The guide covers four main areas:

  • creating an anti-bullying culture in schools;
  • finding ways for students and staff to report bullying incidents;
  • finding ways to record and review the data on bullying;
  • communicating the anti-bullying messages.

Each area contains a set of questions for education professionals to ask themselves when carrying out steps one to four, above.  The questions aim to help you review the current practices in your school, and identify areas for improvement.

Read the guide for further information.

Teacher say children face mental health epidemic

Teenage mental health charity stem4 have released findings from a survey of teachers looking at children and young people’s mental health issues in schools.

Findings from an online survey of 300 teachers working in primary and secondary schools , and further education colleges in the UK show that:

  • 78% of teachers said that at least one of their pupils has experienced a mental health issue over the past year;
  • 14% said that at least one of their pupils has experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviours over the past year;
  • 66% reported a pupil has suffered anxiety, and
  • 45% have witnessed a student with depression
  • 30% engaged with a pupil who had an eating disorder
  • 28% supported a pupil with self-harm
  • 10% reported a pupil who had an addiction.

Yet the teachers told the survey that just under half (46%) of students are unable to access the mental health services they need to make a recovery, with only one in five (19%) saying all these students were getting the treatment they needed. One in five (22%) say pupils needing specialist treatment typically had to wait more than five months for an appointment, and more than a third (36%) had feared at some point that a pupil would come to harm while waiting for treatment.

Nearly one in ten (9%) described their school’s mental health provision as ‘non-existent’, with 30% saying it was inadequate or very inadequate. Four in ten (40%) of the state school teachers surveyed say the need for mental health services has increased over the past year. Over half (52%) of all respondents believed family difficulties were contributing to their students’ problems while other common causes were exam stress and the emotional impact of bullying, both cited by 41%.

For more information read their full news release.

Growing up in a military family

The report, ‘Kin and Country: Growing up as an Armed Forces Child’ by the Children’s Commissioner for England, explores how primary and secondary school children with parents in the Armed Forces feel about moving school or country, how their lives at home and school change with deployment and whether or not they feel they receive the support they need.

The Children’s Commissioner’s Office spoke to 40 children, aged 8-15 years old, up and down the country whose parents are currently serving in the Army, Navy or RAF, as well as speaking to teachers, parents and members of the Armed Forces to build a clear picture of where there are gaps in provision for children, and why these gaps exist.

The report shows that most children in Armed Forces families are growing up living happy lives, despite the unique challenges they face. It is clear though that the lifestyle can be tough, and that multiple school moves often leave children feeling unsettled and anxious. For children with additional needs or teenagers in the middle of exam courses, moving around adds another layer of complication.

Alongside the impact of mobility, service children describe a range of complex emotional responses to the deployment of their parents, sharing the impact that parental absence has at home, with changing family dynamics and increased responsibility for siblings and household tasks. For children who had both parents deployed at the same time, these issues are exacerbated by the need to move to stay with another family member for a significant period of time.

However, despite the challenges highlighted in this report, many of the children in the study had developed very effective coping strategies. The vast majority of service children the research team spoke to during this project were happy, resilient and incredibly proud to have a parent serving in the Armed Forces.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, commenting on the report, said:

“The vast majority of service children we spoke to during this project were happy, resilient and incredibly proud to have a parent serving in the Armed Forces. Belonging to a military family was central to their identity and sense of self, and it is clear that we should celebrate the contribution and the sacrifices made by military families.

“However, more can be done to improve the services that help these children as they cope with the pressures brought about by frequent moves and parental deployment. I want to see a child-focused approach to supporting military families that takes into account the complex challenges that are inevitably part of growing up in an Armed Forces family.”

Read the report, Kin and Country: growing up as an armed forces child.

Digital Friendships of young people aged 8‐17 years

For Safer Internet Day 2018, the UK Safer Internet Centre commissioned an online survey of 2000 young people aged 8‐17 years, which was conducted by Censuswide.

The findings reveal how central technology is to young people’s relationship and the many different platforms they are using to interact with each other. It also highlights both the positive and negative role that technology can play in young people’s relationships and that whilst they are proactively helping to build a better internet, they also want support from the adults in their lives to do so.

  • Being online is key for many young people’s relationships, and they are using a number of different platforms to communicate.
  • Technology is changing the way young people are interacting with each other as well as their ideas of what constitutes a ‘good friendship’.
  • Young people have strategies to manage their online relationships but also want adults to support them when things go wrong.

Download the Digital Friendships Report and Executive Summary