Mrs T’s ‘Stay ‘n’ Pray

20th April 2023

My name is Julie Tomlinson and I live in Newport Shropshire. Married to Andrew, we have three grown up children and one granddaughter Millie. We attend the local Anglican church where I’m the Music Group leader.

Previously a TA for 7 years at the school (John Fletcher of Madeley Primary) I returned in my new role as Methodist Schools Support Worker last October. The school is supported by both Anglican and Methodist churches.

I strongly felt that, above all, the children and staff at the school needed to know God loves and values them and that has really been my main brief. I’ve kept things simple really.

Firstly, I set up Mrs T’s ‘Stay ‘n’ Pray sessions for all K S 2 on Monday lunchtimes and this is a time of Bible reading, sharing, writing prayers and always some sort of craft activity.

I was fortunate to be allowed a small space in a room between the year 3 and year 4 classrooms.  We call it ‘The Den’. There’s a quiet corner with candles and worship items which is there permanently.

I m working through the church year and following the lectionary.  I have a small group of ‘regulars’ from each year group each week and then we often have visiting children who just decide they would like to come along that particular week. There is usually something to take home or we make displays in The Den. This last week we covered Palm Sunday and everyone made a palm leaf with Hosanna on it. I read the scripture and then the children listen and we discuss. 

There’s a jar for Private Prayers and the children can place a prayer in there which I read quietly later in the day. In addition, there are two boards. Prayer and Praise  where prayers are written and placed.

If anyone has a prayer request, we break off and just pray spontaneously. I found the children are very open to this. We have recently created a Lent Prayer Space in ‘The Well’ (a different area of school) where we are focussing on praying for our world. I haven’t as yet done a multi activity Prayer Space..something to aspire to!

We have written a new School Prayer at the headteachers request and have recently formed a ‘Worship Team ‘ of  9 children to evaluate assemblies and suggest and plan worship and assemblies going forward.

The main focus of Stay n Pray is to provide a consistent space for children to come and hear Gods Word and know they can pray or ask for prayer for anything that concerns them. A comfortable, friendly and welcoming space. I feel it’s very important to be consistent and reliable as the children’s worlds and home environments today are very often fractured. To be able to read some scripture to them is also very valuable and a privilege.

Gods Word does not return to Him empty.

Fridays is a bit different. I have use of the Den at breaktime and have been using the Meditation on the Lectio for Families app. This is great as its very family orientated with a child reading the lesson. Every week we follow the same pattern: P R A Y

P: Pausing to be Still

R : Rejoicing with  a memory verse and reflecting on some bible verses.

A: Asking God to help us and others

Y : Saying YES to Gods ways

We get very comfy in this session with cushions and bean bags and the children are encouraged to relax and listen. We always have a question to discuss.

It’s been quite an interesting reaction to the meditation (!);  lots of shuffling and fidgeting to start with but the children are used to it now and the teachers have said they return to learning calmer and more focussed afterwards.

I have started working with K S 1 classes in their R E sessions recently and I will often do some music and worship songs with the children. That’s something to be developed..I don’t have enough hours in the week!

The best compliment I often get asked why we don’t have Stay n Pray every day!!

I’m also very fortunate to have a supportive headteacher and staff. My best friend is a year 4 teacher at the school and a Christian, so I’m blessed.

You can find more about Lectio for Families here