Dr. Kathryn Chapman, childhood education professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1978 until her death in 1998, was a member of Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. At the end of every school year she would stand up at church and talk about preschoolers.
Dr. Chapman would remind everyone that preschoolers are active learners, and it can be hard for them to be in front of the church. She was all for recognizing preschoolers and their accomplishments. Dr. Chapman simply felt it could be done another way.
When we think about preschoolers, we know they enjoy making choices. They like to be active and involved. Why not recognize preschoolers in ways that are comfortable for them?
- Take pictures of preschoolers as they enjoy activities and group times during Mission Friends. Create a colorful bulletin board or banner in the classroom or hallway and showcase preschoolers at work and play. Be sure to follow your church’s photography guidelines.
- Preschoolers will often “perform” better in familiar settings. With parental permission, record preschoolers singing favorite songs, repeating a Bible thought, participating in activities, or listening to a group time story. Share the recording with parents or arrange to play it during times of missions recognition.
- Invite parents to attend a special Mission Friends recognition session. Include favorite interest area activities and a group time story which actively involves preschoolers. Encourage preschoolers to become tour guides for their parents and lead them to different learning areas. Conclude group time by allowing preschoolers to name one way they participated in missions (praying, giving, learning, or doing). Pray and give thanks for each child by name.
- Download and make copies of the “Mission Friends Participation Certificate” found at wmu.com/preschool under Free Downloads. Fill in the information so each child receives a certificate. Attach a photo to each certificate of the child participating in a missions activity. Give out certificates during an informal family gathering.
- Encourage preschoolers to think ahead to their missions future. Brainstorm missions-related occupations. Invite preschoolers to draw pictures of what they would like to be when they grow up. Borrow play microphones and introduce each child and her choice of missions career in a dramatic play interview talk show. Ask an adult to take pictures so you can make a picture book of future missions workers.
- Using their senses and participating in active learning makes missions real for preschoolers. Choose one session a quarter and make it Family Missions Night. Encourage parents to attend the session and participate with their child. Plan a normal Mission Friends session and allow families to personally experience how preschoolers learn about and participate in missions. This time would be a true recognition of missions education, and hands-on learning for both preschoolers and adults.
Your recognition of missions learning and doing can be as unique as each of your preschoolers. Celebrate with parents, family, and friends as they see how preschoolers learn and participate in missions.