I would think most Mission Friends leaders love children, especially preschoolers. We use our natural love to honor and serve God. And while we love our preschoolers, it can be a challenge to keep their attention long enough to ensure they learn about our Savior as well as the amazing missionaries who answer the call to serve all over the world.
So, what makes a group time great and how can we keep our preschoolers engaged while they learn? This question stays at the forefront of my mind each week as I meet with my precious Mission Friends. Here are a few things I have discovered through my years of experience that seem to consistently lead to good group times.
Be enthusiastic. Preschoolers are naturally excited and inquisitive. Be sure your body language and voice tone let them know that you are interested in learning along with them.
Establish a routine to start group time. Preschoolers thrive on routine. Some group time starters you can use:
- Sing a song that preschoolers can join in singing while making their way to a designated location. Sing to the Tune* has many songs that can be used for just this purpose.
- Use a hand-clapping pattern to capture their attention. Teach them to copy the pattern. Search online for more simple hand-clapping rhythms to teach to preschoolers.
- Say: If you can hear my voice (fill in the blank). Repeat with different directions such as touch your head, clap one time, hands on knees, and so on, until you have everyone’s attention.
Location is important. Designate a location in your room for group time. If possible, have an area rug or individual carpet squares for preschoolers. Hang a bulletin board at eye level and include monthly pictures, focus poster, and other group time resources. Keep a Bible at the group time area to relate Bible thoughts to missionaries, God’s work, and preschoolers. While telling the mission story, draw preschoolers’ attention to the pictures so they can make connections between themselves and the missionary.
Move, move, move! Preschoolers are made to move. Incorporate movement as much as possible during group times. Ways to do this could include:
- Placing Bible thoughts around the room and have preschoolers find them
- Acting out parts of the story
- Asking preschoolers to listen for a specific word throughout the story and make a movement when they hear the word. For example, say: Touch your ear when I say the word “missionary.”
- Role play with a partner during specific parts of the story. Let preschoolers act out ways to help each other, tell others about Jesus, or show others that we care for them.
Spend time in prayer. Let preschoolers hear a model of prayer but also allow them to pray aloud. Give sentence prayer starters like:
- Thank you, God, for . . .
- Please help Mr. and Mrs. Smith as they . . .
- God, please help me to . . .
Group times are one way that we can impact Mission Friends for the Kingdom. Try these tips to make the best of the time you have with preschoolers each week.