Preschool Leaders

Oh, Those Babies, Ones, and Twos! Part 2

Toddler

How would I describe a one-year-old? On the go! During this year one-year-olds literally take off with their newfound large muscle skills. We call them “toddlers” because of the way they bump and wobble around as they learn to step, walk, and then run. This is when they begin to climb too. They not only develop in the use of their legs, but their arms also. This is known as the “dump and fill” stage as they use their arm muscles to dump everything out of a container and then refill it. While this is a year to gain in large muscle development, ones also gain ground in their speech and vocabulary. Those ones are such fun, and we can help them use these new skills to learn about missions and Jesus’ love.

  • Use the Bible with ones by saying Bible thoughts as they turn the pages. Say a short statement about a picture in the Bible, such as “The four friends helped their friend to see Jesus.”

Oh, Those Babies, Ones, and Twos! Part 1

baby

At no other time in life do people have more growth and development than during the years of infancy, 1, and 2. They grow from totally helpless infants who are dependent on others for all needs, to two-year-olds who run, laugh, talk, and play. How can we help them to grow toward God through missions learning at such a young age?

This week, we’ll talk about the youngest ones, and how we can guide babies in beginning to learn missions concepts. Throughout the first year, it seems that babies gain new skills almost every day. How can we use their new skills to guide them to learn of God and His love for all people?

  • Provide loving care as babies pick up the attitudes of caregivers. They will learn of God’s love from the example you set.

By All Means

By All Means Graphic

My brother-in-law, Kyle, is the best at making connections with people. Within a few minutes of meeting someone, he will make the connection that he knows their great aunt’s cousin’s nephew. If he doesn’t connect through someone they know in common, he makes a connection through a common place by telling a story about someone he knew from the place where the person is from. Kyle seldom meets a stranger because he knows how to make these connections with people.

Paul talks about making connections and cultivating relationships with people in 1 Corinthians 9:22–23: "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." As we look to what it means to share Christ with the world around us, making connections with people is crucial. The connections we make are openings that lead to conversations, and our conversations can lead to sharing about Christ.

Decoding the WMU Emphasis for Preschoolers—Cultivate Relationships

preschoolers painting

I introduced four-year-old Barrett, a first-time visitor, to Maverick and Charlie as they built in the Blocks area. I needed to speak to Barrett’s mom, and when I looked back over at the boys, they were playing, laughing, and building together. For the rest of the Mission Friends® session, the three boys were inseparable. I was so glad to see how easily our Mission Friends befriended a new preschooler.

One of the purposes of the WMU emphasis, By All Means, is to encourage those who follow Christ to cultivate relationships with the people around them. For preschoolers, we can help them to know how they can be a friend to others. How can you lead preschoolers in being friends with others?

  • Give preschoolers opportunities to work together. Encourage them to build or make something together.

  • Plan activities in which preschoolers cooperate with one another. For example, they make a mural together.

  • Pair preschoolers to do movement activities together.

Caring for Families

Project HELP: PTSD

When we think of children who have experienced trauma, the foster child comes to mind. Most foster children have experienced trauma in one way or another. Something has happened in which they were removed from their birth family and placed in the care of foster parents. Though a foster child may not be officially diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the effects of the trauma they have experienced may be deep and long-lasting. As foster parents care for their foster child, they help the child through the love and compassion they show.

Some families may be in your church who are living out their faith through serving as foster care parents. Their foster child may come to Mission Friends. It is important for their church family to surround foster families with support and encouragement. Look for ways that you can minister to a foster family.

  • Place the family on your daily prayer list. Let them know of your commitment to pray for them. Offer to pray for specific requests they might share.

Connect the Dots

dot-to-dot

Do you remember the dot-to-dot game? It consisted of a grid of dots in which you and at least one other person drew lines from one dot to another. When you connected the dots to make a square, you got to fill in the square with your initial. The thing about the game is that you cannot play it by yourself. It requires at least one other person to play.

In connecting the dots that more Mission Friends® groups means more missions discipleship, you can be a help to a Mission Friends group that is starting. Help them to know they do not have to do it by themselves! You could be a partner to help another church start Mission Friends. Is your church starting a new church plant? You could help them to have missions as part of their church from the beginning. Is there a church in your area that is interested in starting missions discipleship for their preschoolers? Check with your local Baptist association to find a church that you could partner with in starting Mission Friends. Is there a language church or an English as a second language program at a nearby church? Offer to help them start Mission Friends with their preschoolers.

How Preschoolers Learn

How Preschoolers Learn through Play

The preschool years (age birth to five) are crucial for brain development. In fact, 85% of total brain growth happens by age three! Preschoolers are taking in so much information and learning so much, all while doing it in their own little ways. When children are in the preschool years, they are still learning all new things and taking in the world around them, and putting everything they see and learn into categories in their minds (called adaptation), or they make new categories for totally new information (called accommodation). The best way to help them learn about the world around them and help them put information into those categories is through play!

Attention Grabbing Group Time: Prayertime

Praying Preschooler

Praying with your preschoolers is one of the most important things that you get to do with them. When you pray with your preschoolers, you are modeling for them the essential skills for a close, personal relationship with God. You are both the model and the participant in this time of prayer, and the only way to learn to pray effectively is by praying yourself! Teaching preschoolers that God is active and listening to them always, and that they can talk to God like they’re talking to a friend are very important. Shaking off the formality and stiffness of a group prayer can help your preschoolers develop a positive attitude about prayer.

Here are several tips for opening your preschoolers’ eyes and hearts to prayer, and some tips for keeping their attention.

  • Preschoolers have notoriously short attention spans! Keep your prayer brief and simple, but meaningful.

Talking to Parents

Teacher and Parent

Three-year-old Monica’s face lit up as her mom showed her baby sister to our preschool class. We were focusing on the Christian concept area family, and I asked Monica’s mom to be our guest in our class. She took the baby out of the car seat and held her, and talked with our preschoolers about the ways she cares for the baby. We asked Monica questions about what she did to care for the baby, too. Monica was so happy to have her own mom and baby sister as part of our class that day.

Parents enjoy being involved in their preschooler’s class, and preschoolers love having their parents in their class. As you teach about missions, it strengthens families as you involve parents in various ways. Parents may not know how they can serve as volunteers, so take the initiative to ask. Give a specific task they can do. Some tasks may be something they do one time, and other ways of volunteering may be ongoing.

Use this list of ways parents can volunteer and be involved in your Mission Friends®.

  • Tell the mission story in Group Time one week. Provide the story ahead of time so they can prepare.

Ministering to Military Families

Project HELP logo

You may be near a military base with many military personnel, have one military family in your church, or have a family with a member in the National Guard or Reserves. As a preschool leader in the church, this is an opportunity for you to serve these families in a special way. As they entrust their preschooler to you while at church, this may open doors for you to reach out to military families. There are also opportunities to minister to military families outside the church.

 

Each military family has its own strengths and needs. Use these ideas as possibilities for ministry to the needs of military families. Realize that these are ideas for ministry to any military family, not just to those with a family member who has PTSD. Following are ways to give care and support to all military families.

  • Commit to pray daily for the families. Send a note or message to let them know, so they can draw strength from knowing of your prayers.

  • For multiple families, set up a prayer plan among preschool teachers at church.

  • Listen with a heart of compassion.

  • Make care packages for families.

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