April 2022 Preschool Leader Article image
Missions Discipleship

How Preschoolers Grow: From Core to Perimeter

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” —Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

The preschool years are fascinating! During the first five years, preschoolers experience the greatest rate of growth than at any other time of their lives. God wonderfully made each preschooler and planned for each to grow and develop. Knowing how preschoolers grow helps us to guide them toward God in the best possible ways.

Though each preschooler is unique and develops at his own pace, development is progressive. God planned for development to occur in order. For example, a baby learns to turn over, sit up, crawl, pull up, and then walk. When a preschooler learns one thing, then he builds on that knowledge or skill to learn the next thing.

One of the ways preschoolers develop is from the core to the perimeter. A preschoolers’ trunk will develop first, then growth continues out to their arms and legs, and then to their hands, fingers, and feet. Development happens from the inner part of their body to their outer extremities. You have probably seen a young preschooler catch a ball against his body at first, then as he develops he catches a ball with his arms outstretched, and finally with his hands as his development progresses. This shows how he is developing from the core to the perimeter.

This principle of growth can help you choose from the activity suggestions in Mission Friends Leader for the preschoolers you teach in Mission Friends.

Consider the stage of development of your preschoolers:

  • For babies through twos, use activities that help strengthen their core or the trunk of their body. Place a teaching picture to the side of a baby who is beginning to turn over.
  • Threes and fours are using their arms and legs more. Provide large paper so they can paint by using large arm strokes.
  • Kindergartners are able to do more with their hands and fingers, such as holding a pencil or cutting with scissors.

It is fascinating to see how preschoolers grow! As you teach your Mission Friends group, make note of how they grow from the trunk outward. Give opportunities to practice new skills as they develop. Give thanks to God for the way He has made each one to grow and develop. Remember that preschoolers develop from the core to the perimeter.

by Joye Smith