Learning About Children from a Guy Who Doesn’t Have Any

Meeting the Expert

The day before I met Kory Kraft, I had an interview with the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Carolina, applying for the Unit Director position in Allendale County. I had already set up the lunch with him, to learn about how to run an after school program. (Good timing, since within a few hours after lunch, I had the job offer, and would start working at the Club in less than a week.) Help was most definitely needed.

 

Kory had been serving and leading at The Frazee Center for about 4 years now. He went from not knowing much about young children, to serving, to now being over programming for multiple grade levels (including dozens of children) every afternoon and through the year. I knew he would have a lot of advice to offer me.

 

The Expert’s Counsel

He walked me through the schedule that they use for different age groups and some good programming ideas. We talked about what he loves about working with this ministry.

But when I asked what he wished he knew before starting with this ministry, what he feels is most important, he paused. He couldn’t initially think of anything, saying he was still learning a lot. At first, I really had to work to get things out of his brain, but then he easily came up with these ideas:
  1. He wished that he had more of an educational background, so that he could have some theory, instead of always just trial and error.
  2. Structure is such a big thing for younger kids. You need simple organizational systems to help them do things well.
  3. Reading is more than just looking at words. It’s about having a picture in your head and thinking critically.
  4. Imagine the programming from the child’s perspective.
  5. Just because a child does something wrong doesn’t mean that he is a jerk. They might never have been taught.
  6. When a child does do bad, don’t take it personally.

The Teacher Becomes the Student

He didn’t even realize how important these things were; he just thought they were natural things that he’s been picking up. But I explained that probably 80% of the people in the country don’t know and/or implement these concepts, parents included. He didn’t even realize that he is now an expert on discipling children.

And, to be honest, most of his pointers have been great reminders for me personally since I started working in this job (especially #5), and even in my parenting. How cool is that? God used a young man, without children of his own, to grow me – a father of three kids who has just come out of leading a ministry of almost 1000 children.

God is teaching this young man. As a result of his willingness to learn, grow, and serve, God is using him to bless children and leaders, including me.

Even more, what blessing all of this is to him! In his mind, he is just being faithful and following Jesus. But think how much more of a man and leader he is today compared to four years ago, and think how great of a dad he will be one day.
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6 responses to “Learning About Children from a Guy Who Doesn’t Have Any”

  1. Wanda Parker says :

    Joey,

    I particularly like the point on “from the child's perspective.” So much of what we do – both in after school programs and in children's ministry in the church is done from what makes the adult's feel good.

    It must go deeper than just the “child's perspective” though – it must go to what does the child truly need? You might approach that real need from the “child's perspective” – but then you may not.

  2. Joey Espinosa says :

    You're right, Wanda. It can't just be “what the child wants,” but what he also needs. Kory did say more than just what I summarized, and he (and I) would agree with you. Leadership is not just giving those under your care whatever they say they want. Kids, for sure, need structure. But Kory gave me a great reminder to think about what we do through their eyes.

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