Inviting Preschoolers with Differing Abilities
In Matthew 22:34-39, Jesus was asked to name the most important thing one had to do to follow God’s commandments. Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This command is followed closely by the command to love others.
God loves all of us. With that love, we are to love Him with our totality, and then love others as much as we love ourselves. No exceptions are given. Love one another.
When we consider preschoolers, we can see that each one is a unique, formed-by-God individual. God created every child with gifts, interests, and abilities. He did not make each child to be a carbon copy of others, but an individual. If we understand that God made each of us unique, we should not be surprised to find that every person has different abilities. How can we invite and embrace preschoolers with differing abilities? With God’s love.
- Pray for hearts that love and show love to each child and family, no matter what differing abilities may be present.
- Create an inviting and welcoming classroom. A clean, tidy, attractive space will draw preschoolers in and fill them with interest and excitement. Make sure leaders are prepared and ready to engage early arrivers. Smile, elbow bump, and greet each child with enthusiasm.
- Get to know preschoolers and their families. Make phone calls, send notes, and engage with them through other church activities. Families will feel comfortable and welcome when they have a relationship with leaders.
- Be intentional as you look for preschoolers to invite to Mission Friends. Invite all preschoolers you find, regardless of perceived differing abilities. Give a simple outline of what happens at Mission Friends and what preschoolers learn and do.
- Remember that preschoolers advance through the developmental stages at different rates. No two preschoolers are alike, even twins! Some differing abilities may be due to different rates of developmental progress.
- If you are informed of differing abilities by parents or other leaders, ask what strategies help the preschooler in group settings like Mission Friends. Perhaps you will need to make accommodations and adjustments to some activities to make them more accessible. Or maybe special equipment is needed to help a child enjoy different activities. Talk with parents and let them know you care and want to help their child.
- Invite parents to visit a Mission Friends session. Or plan a special event where families are included. This will allow parents to see what goes on in a Mission Friends session and get to know other families who attend.
As you express love, caring, and interest in preschoolers of all abilities, you are making Mission Friends a safe and wonderful place for each child to attend.
*Always follow current COVID-19 guidelines and your church’s guidelines as you interact with preschoolers and families.
Written by Wendy Dever
This article appears in the Winter 2020 issue of Mission Friends Leader. To learn more about this missions discipleship resource for preschoolers, please visit wmustore.com/mission-friends-leader.