Thursday, May 21, 2015

6 Ways to Save Your Substitute Chorister

I get a little possessive about my calling. They're my kids, and it's my Singing Time.  Okay, I know that's not really the case, but I hate missing even one week of Primary.  However, we all know that things pop up: a family vacation, a darling niece's baby blessing in another ward, a sick child...again...  So, it's helpful to have a plan in place to help your fortunate substitute. :)  Here are six things that my substitutes have found helpful:

1. Advance notice.  

I know, it's not always possible. However, when you can, give your substitute a couple weeks notice.  Then, if she procrastinates, it's her own fault. ;)

2.  Plan the songs.  

Take the time to plan out all the songs, both for opening exercises and for Singing Time.  Your substitute likely doesn't know what songs you need the children to learn that week, and he doesn't know which wiggle songs the kids know, either.  If you always plan your Singing Time in advance, you won't have to worry about what to hand to a last-minute sub.

3.  Ask how much help she wants planning.  

Once when I had a sick child, I called my friend Nicolle on Saturday to sub for me.  Since Nicolle had less than a day to prepare, I sent my detailed plan over to her.  After church, she told me, "Your ideas for activities were helpful, MUCH easier than if I jumped in without a plan!"  Last minute=gratitude for the details.  

Conversely, I had a planned absence when I asked my friend Connie ahead of time to sub. She had enough time to plan some activities that she loved, so for her, just an outline with suggestions was what she wanted.  Some substitutes will appreciate having more creative flexibility!

4.  Let him know what supplies are available.

I don't bring a Children's Songbook with me on Sunday, so I completely forget to check whether my sub needs one! One time she had to scramble to get a book once she was there.  Oops...  It's also a nice idea to mention if you have instruments or pictures that your sub could use. 

5. Give tips about your children.  

Someone unfamiliar with your Primary won't know that you have a baker's dozen of bouncy Sunbeams (gotta love those 3-year-olds!), or that your 10-year-old boys respond best to word and logic activities.  Your sub doesn't need a novel on each child, but a couple good tips can help curb chaos.

6. Don't expect your sub to be YOU.  

So...this may or may not be something I learned through trial and error.  My friend Connie has over 20 years of Primary music experience and she shared, 
"I have learned that I don't expect everything to be accomplished that I might have done if I had been may just be a freebie day for the children, and one less week to accomplish all that I need or want to do.  I think substitute days are helpful in reminding us to trust the Lord.  Relinquishing control over the plans you have and so desperately want to give to the children you love so much is not easy, but it is an act of faith, and trust in the Lord.  Remember, it is HIS work you are doing."  
Good words. Remind me of them again sometime, will you, Connie? :)

Happy Singing!

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