Your preschool ministry offers an opportunity to infuse little ones with faith at one the most important point in their lives.
If you work with preschoolers, it’s likely you’re a big believer in the amazing way God wired these little ones to learn. While some on the “outside”—outside your class walls, outside the world of wonder that is preschooldom—find it hard to believe that much meaningful learning and faith discovery can really take place with kids this age, you know the truth.
Children in early childhood are living in moment-by-moment discovery of God’s amazing creation. Their work really is their play. And you get to be part of it as you champion preschool ministry! Best of all, there’s plenty of science to back up your passion. So read on for the points—and the wins—that’ll make your preschool ministry the most vibrant place in your church!
EXPERIENCES AND REPETITION
Although the human brain continues to change over time, the first few years of life mark an important time of rapid growth. Babies and preschoolers’ brain synapses, which allow information to pass from neuron to neuron, are forming at an incredible rate that won’t be matched for the rest of their lives. Their young brains are prepared to receive input from their environment and to learn, and the experiences children have can actually modify the function of their brain as well as its structure.
A child’s early environment sets the stage for subsequent development and may have lasting effects on a child. In fact, the Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development concluded, “The question today is not whether early experience matters, but rather how early experiences shape individual development and contribute to children’s continued movement along positive pathways.”
Repetition strengthens the synapses carrying information from neuron to neuron, building pathways of learning. For preschoolers, repetition is not only very enjoyable, it’s also the key to cementing learning. That’s why your kids love to hear the same stories over and over, play the same games, and listen to the same songs. They’re instinctively drawn to repetition. In this way, you can infuse faith in your kids through repetition.
THE WIN: Use this knowledge to evaluate how you use your time with preschoolers. As adults, repetition may seem boring, even irritating. But when you approach your time with your little ones knowing that repetition is one of the most beneficial teaching tools available, it’s easier to understand and appreciate why kids love it so. Don’t shy from repetition and routine.
- Follow the same basic structure. Create a routine your kids can count on. Set up your class time so the beginning, middle, and end are consistent. Kids always know that you start class with the “Good Morning” song, eat snack after Bible time, and finish class with the “See You Later” song. Consistency gives kids a sense of comfort and predictability that is soothing and will help you avoid discipline issues arising out of an uncontrolled environment.
- Let kids explore their favorites. You likely get requests from kids to play the same games, sing the same songs, and hear the same Bible events over and over. They may even want to play with the same toys each time they come. Don’t resist this; remember that every time you repeat something, you’re helping to ingrain it in the child’s memory and experiences.