Preschoolers love to be inspired, and January is a great time to do just that. Not only is it the start of the new year, but it’s also the month we honor Martin Luther King Jr. And like King, preschoolers have big hopes and dreams.
• Talk with preschoolers about their dreams. Preschoolers are very concrete about their wishes. They wish for toys, treats, and things to do.
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• Talk about Jesus’ dreams and wishes, too. When preschoolers discover that Jesus had wishes, their eyes light up — they’re curious about what Jesus wished and hoped for. Preschoolers may know a bit about Jesus’ wishes, but they need to know more.
I tell preschoolers that Jesus wishes for everyone to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbor, too (Mark 12:28-31). We talk about Matthew 5:44, where Jesus wishes people will love their enemies. I tell kids how Jesus was kind to people others didn’t like, such as the poor, sick, and hurting. Jesus wishes others will follow his example.
When I finish sharing Jesus’ wishes, I give kids paper and crayons and ask them to draw a big cloud on the paper. Then I tell kids to draw one big wish they think Jesus has for us inside the cloud. I’m always surprised by what preschoolers draw. There are always clouds filled with hearts and smiles. But I’ve also seen clouds filled with people helping the sick or helping those who are hurt. I’ve seen clouds filled with disturbing items such as guns and knives, with a big red X drawn over them to show their wish for things to change. One preschooler drew two hands and told me that Jesus gave us two hands so we could help lots of people.
Preschoolers have big dreams. They have big wishes.
When we talk about these important things, preschoolers begin to help and love each other more — a great wish for the new year.
Jolene Roehlkepartain is the author of 25 books including Parenting Preschoolers with a Purpose (Search Institute). She’s active in children’s ministry in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.