They come bouncing into our Mission Friends room, ready to do something fun. Sometimes they come in the room asking, “What are we going to do today?” Three- and four-year-olds always seem to be moving and their minds always clicking. As their teachers, we tend to focus on the activities we plan for our preschoolers to do in Mission Friends. We want activities that engage preschoolers and lead them to know how God is at work in our world today through missions. Take a moment now to focus on the needs of the threes and fours that you teach. Though each preschooler is unique, what are the needs that they share?
- The need to move. Provide activities in which preschoolers use their large muscles as well as planning activities to use the small muscles. Give opportunities to practice their new-found skills.
- The need to use imagination. Let preschoolers use their imaginations to play as they build with blocks, draw, or paint. Give opportunities to use dramatic play in the Homeliving area as they learn about missions work.
- The need to hear and use words. Along with telling the mission story during Mission Friends, read to preschoolers. Describe what they are doing in an activity. Ask open-ended questions to allow them to use words in responding.
- The dual needs of dependence and independence. While threes and fours are still dependent on adults in many ways, allow them to do as much for themselves as they can handle. Give them appropriate choices, such as which color of paper to use in an art activity.
- The need to solve problems. Give opportunities for preschoolers to solve problems. Ask questions to help them think of solutions.
- The need for acceptance and self-respect. Give praise to preschoolers for their efforts rather than the end product they make. Listen to preschoolers. Value each one as you let them know that God made them and loves them.
- The need for guidance. Provide guidance in relating to others as they learn to share, take turns, and be kind to others. Help preschoolers express anger in appropriate ways. Set up a few important rules and help them to understand the rules.
- The need for security and a sense of trust. Be consistent in what is expected of preschoolers. Provide a safe, caring environment.
- The need for love. Show a loving attitude as you care for preschoolers. Tell preschoolers of God and Jesus’ love for them. Give preschoolers opportunities to express love to others.
As you focus on these needs, think of the preschoolers in your Mission Friends class. Each one will have more needs in some of these areas at different times. Keep these needs in focus as you teach your threes and fours in Mission Friends.
Written by Joye Smith, preschool consultant