Preschool Blog

We Love First Steps in Missions

First Steps in Missions, vol. 23

What do you love most about teaching Mission Friends®? Is it your preschoolers’ natural curiosity and joy? Is it their penchant for telling so much truth? Is it their ability to accept God’s deep truths with simple faith? One thing that I love about teaching Mission Friends is seeing their eyes light up when they develop a new realization about God’s global mission. You can almost see their minds working to assimilate the new thought.

I love teaching Mission Friends. I love engaging preschoolers’ minds with the thought that “God loved us and sent His Son” (see 1 John 4:10). I love exploring new cultures with my little ones and teaching them that people around the world are very different, but that God loves us all the same. Because of my love for teaching, I always enjoy discovering new ideas to try with my classes. This is one reason that I love the First Steps in Missions books so much. Have you ever used First Steps in Missions?

Impressions from Guatemala

Joye with kids

The people and place of Guatemala have a special place in my heart after going to Guatemala on a missions trip several years ago. I served with Orphan’s Heart at the Child Malnutrition Center in central Guatemala. Orphan’s Heart is a ministry of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. Our missions team was made up of WMU members from across Florida, and I was so blessed to join this team for an incredible week of giving care to about 100 preschoolers under the age of 5 years. We served alongside their caregivers in playing, singing, feeding, bathing, and dressing the preschoolers throughout the day. During the week, I spent most of my days with the preschoolers who were just learning to walk. I spent part of a day with the infants, and another part day with the 3–4 year olds.

Questions about Develop Online Training

Joye Smith

The part I like best about our online Develop training courses is that I get to interact with you, the Mission Friends® leaders. I so enjoy the correspondence back and forth with each leader who has taken one of the preschool Develop courses. Most of the leaders I have never met in person, but I feel like I know them as they go through the courses. Even though the training is online, that does not mean that it is impersonal. This has been the most pleasant surprise for me as we developed the online courses to include contact between the course participant and Mission Friends consultant.

In thinking about the preschool Develop courses, I thought I would answer a few questions that I am asked about the online training.

  • What is included in the preschool Develop courses? Each of the preschool courses include several short instructional videos, handouts, and interactive assignments.

Next Steps in Teaching Mission Friends

Planning to train

Professional teachers are required to take career development courses in order to keep current with trends in education and to glean fresh new ideas. Professional development helps us bring best practices into our classrooms. For teachers in the church, professional development is not required, but it certainly benefits our children and our ministry to gain as much training as possible.

Because most of us who work in preschool or children’s ministry also have many responsibilities with our families and homes and careers, our discretionary time is limited. Scheduling additional time for weekend or evening conferences can be difficult. We know that your time is precious, so we offer a number of resources that will help you keep up-to-date with trends in teaching at church, as well as the tried-and-true methods of working with preschoolers.

Here are a few ways you can learn more about teaching preschoolers—without ever leaving your home!

When a Preschooler Is Afraid

Frightened preschooler

A few times recently in Mission Friends®, we have had one child left for a while after the other preschoolers have been picked up by their parents. Most have been OK with this as we continued playing. But one time I could tell that the preschooler became anxious. She made comments like, “I’m the only one left,” and “Where is my mom?”

When we think of preschoolers’ fears, we tend to think of a traumatic event that has happened to cause them to be afraid. We think of events such as a tornado or car accident. Some preschoolers will also become fearful in situations that are less traumatic. I have been in a store and seen the frightened look on a preschooler’s face when he lost sight of his mother, even though she was only a few steps away and knew where he was. Some preschoolers also become fearful when a situation is out of the ordinary or out of their routine. In the case of my Mission Friend above, her train of thought may lead her to think, “If Mommy usually picks me up at the same time as the other children, what if this means she is not coming for me?” This is a scary thought for a preschooler.

Ministering to Military Families

military family

With Memorial Day, we remember with gratitude those who have given their lives for our country. On this day, we also turn our thoughts and prayers to those who currently serve in our military. We share this article with you again for ideas on ministering to military families.

You may be near a military base with many military personnel, have one military family in your church, or have a family with a member in the National Guard or Reserves. As a preschool leader in the church, this is an opportunity for you to serve these families in a special way. As they entrust their preschooler to you while at church, this may open doors for you to reach out to military families. There are also opportunities to minister to military families outside the church.

Each military family has its own strengths and needs. Use these ideas as possibilities for ministry to the needs of military families. Realize that these are ideas for ministry to any military family, not just to those with a family member who has PTSD. Following are ways to give care and support to all military families.

News from Holly Procita

Prayer, Calgary, Holly Procita, Preschool

With the arrival of summer, many churches in the US relax their children’s ministry schedules. This is not the case with Southwinds Church in Calgary! Holly Procita, Community Outreach Coordinator at Southwinds, tells us Calgary experiences snow and cold weather for 8 to 10 months each year. Calgarians love the opportunity to be outside when the weather is warm. So, summer is the prime time to reach out to families.

Southwinds hosts between 6 and 10 summer camps each year. As you read this, Holly and her ministry team are working tirelessly to wrap up all the details for this year’s summer camps. The camps include sports camps, music and drama camps, and Kid’s Camp, which most of us would call Vacation Bible School.

Church Planting in Arizona

Psalm 96:3

“Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:2–3 NIV1).

In Phoenix, Arizona, Hernando and Alcira Cardenas live out this Scripture every day. Mr. and Mrs. Cardenas are able to take the gospel to the nations, because like so many church planters in the United States, the nations have come to them. Incredibly, Mr. Cardenas is currently planting two Hispanic churches.

God Hears the Prayers of Preschoolers

God hears me when I pray

“Tell all the Mission Friends to keep praying.” These were the words we heard from missionary, Tobey Pitman, after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I do not think it was by coincidence that Mission Friends® featured Tobey and Cathy Pitman as our missionaries that August. Preschoolers learned all month about New Orleans and the Pitmans’ ministries to the people of New Orleans. Immediately after the devastation of the hurricane, Mission Friends leaders from across the country contacted WMU with concerns about the Pitmans. Their preschoolers had heard about the flooding in New Orleans, and the preschoolers were asking about Mr. and Mrs. Pitman. The leaders told us their preschoolers were praying for the Pitmans. When we heard from Tobey Pitman and told him all the Mission Friends were asking about them, his response was to “tell all the Mission Friends to keep praying.” What a difference it made to these missionaries to know our preschoolers were praying. This is why I believe that God hears the prayers of our preschoolers.

Let’s Learn About . . . The Christian Concept Areas

Let's Learn About . . .

The Christian concept areas are the building blocks of faith development for preschoolers. Each weekly session includes one learning outcome based on the work of the missionaries and one learning outcome based on the concept area being featured that month. How are you incorporating the Christian concept areas into your Mission Friends® sessions?

The book Let’s Learn About . . . by Angie Quantrell is an excellent resource for helping your preschoolers learn about how specific facets of Christianity apply to their lives. In this book, Molly and Mikey explore the concept areas with their teacher, Miss Goodwin. Here are a few suggestions for using Let’s Learn About . . . during your Mission Friends sessions:

  • Each month, during your first session read about the month’s Christian concept area as an introduction before your begin your group time story.

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