Preschool Blog

Oh, Those Babies, Ones, and Twos! Part 1

baby

At no other time in life do people have more growth and development than during the years of infancy, 1, and 2. They grow from totally helpless infants who are dependent on others for all needs, to two-year-olds who run, laugh, talk, and play. How can we help them to grow toward God through missions learning at such a young age?

This week, we’ll talk about the youngest ones, and how we can guide babies in beginning to learn missions concepts. Throughout the first year, it seems that babies gain new skills almost every day. How can we use their new skills to guide them to learn of God and His love for all people?

  • Provide loving care as babies pick up the attitudes of caregivers. They will learn of God’s love from the example you set.

Teaching Preschoolers to Help Others and to Give

child on bike

During the months of March and April, Southern Baptists will focus on giving to North American missions through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. We will focus on praying for North American missions during the Week of Prayer, March 5–12. For Mission Friends®, our March unit will serve as the North American Mission Study.

Our focus on North American missions provides a natural opportunity for Mission Friends leaders to teach preschoolers that we are never too young to be on mission with God! Two resources that can deepen your preschoolers’ understanding of the missional lifestyle are I Can Give  and I Can Do It! 

Threes and Fours Are Growing

Grocery labels

Tenley bursts into our Mission Friends room and announces, “I’m here!” She is full of energy and ready to see what we have prepared for her to do in Mission Friends. If you teach 3-year-olds or 4-year-olds, you know how eager they are to learn. They are willing to try new activities and do new things. They also enjoy repeating favorite activities, which gives them practice at newly growing skills. How do we encourage 3s and 4s to use these newfound skills as we teach them about missions?

When We Can’t Tell Their Names

This month you will be teaching preschoolers about Martin and Debra Hasler* who are special workers in the Middle East. To guide your personal prayer for Mr. and Mrs. Hasler, please look for information about the Middle East on the Preschool Missions Focus page, at imb.org, and in trustworthy news sources. In planning your Mission Friends sessions, you may be concerned about talking to preschoolers about special workers who serve in high security areas.

Given the world’s changing social climate, we must be increasingly diligent in protecting the identities of many of our special workers. We understand that this presents a unique challenge for Mission Friends teachers. How can you teach preschoolers about special workers when you can’t show a picture or even give a real name? How do you communicate that some special workers serve in difficult positions without frightening preschoolers with too much graphic information?

Use these five suggestions to help in teaching about a missionary whose name has been changed:

Encouraging Kindergartners to Use Language Skills

As we sat together to share reading from a preschool book, I read the words aloud and the kindergartner interjected when we came to a word he knew. Kindergartners are beginning to learn the fundamentals of reading and writing. Throughout the year, these skills will increase. Mission Friends teachers can encourage kindergartners to use these skills in learning about missions. Separate session plans are provided for kindergarten within Mission Friends Leader in order to use their increasing skills. Know where your kindergartners are as they learn to read and write, and choose activities in which they can use these newfound skills. Following is a list of general ideas for learning about missions through these skills.

  • Write out the Bible thoughts so kindergartners can see the printed words.

  • Make charts with kindergartners about the missions area, such as Alike and Different.

  • Print signs for structures kindergartners build in the Blocks area.

Teaching Preschoolers the Significance of Prayer

Last week, during National WMU’s all employee meeting, our executive director, Sandy Wisdom-Martin, shared excerpts of her prayer journal with us. She emphasized that prayer should not be assigned to specific times or places. Sandy’s words created a beautiful picture, "When prayer occurs with frequency and passion, communication transforms into communion. When people pray together, it creates a climate for God’s Spirit to dwell in our midst. If we lead with prayer, God can do immeasurably more in and through us."

What if our preschoolers caught this vision? Preschoolers are ripe for learning about prayer. They accept matters of faith that our jaded adult minds may not accept. From birth, we can pray with our children. As you pray with your little ones, you are building a foundation for deeper, more fervent and faithful communion with God.

Use these suggestions to help your preschoolers understand the significance of prayer for followers of Jesus:

Teaching the Christian Concept Areas

Every month in Mission Friends®, we feature one Christian concept area to be studied along with the work of missionaries around the world. The Christian concept areas can be thought of as the building blocks of spiritual formation for preschoolers. These concept areas offer us the opportunity to help preschoolers begin developing basic understandings of the Christian faith.

As you work through the interest areas and Group Time and share Bible thoughts with preschoolers, you will see that the Christian concept areas are woven throughout the components of each session. An additional resource for teaching preschoolers about the Christian concept areas is the “Missions and Me” Series of digital downloadable books.

This series gives you affordable, downloadable, and/or printable books for talking to your preschoolers about the Christian concept areas. Each book focuses on just one concept area. This series has recently been revised and updated so that each page is full-color. The books’ simple text and illustrations draw preschoolers in and open opportunities for simple conversations.

Mission Friends Leadership Certificate

Would you like to shape your leadership skills as a Mission Friends® teacher? Taking the online training courses that make up the new Mission Friends Leadership Certificate will help you sharpen your leadership skills. The following courses are included in the Leadership Certificate offered by WMU® through Develop online training. When you purchase 4 of the courses, you can get your 5th course free!

  • Leading Mission Friends—Explore the purpose of Mission Friends, the main teaching components, resources, planning, and teaching through activities and Group Time.

  • Uniquely Designed: Preschoolers—Take a look at the unique characteristics of preschoolers and how they grow physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

  • How Preschoolers Learn—Discover the 4 learning styles of preschoolers and the ways preschoolers learn. Consider how to encourage preschoolers to learn about God and missions.

Praying for Disaster Relief Chaplains and Workers

pray for disaster relief volunteers

In one of my earliest experiences with Baptist Disaster Relief, I learned firsthand the precious value of those who support the ministry from behind the scenes.

Hurricane Hugo had devastated huge areas of our state of South Carolina. A friend from our church offered to care for our two preschool-aged children so that my husband and I could both serve with a Disaster Relief (DR) unit in a hard-hit area. Others in our church prayed as we served. The experience convinced me that those in support roles back home are just as much a part of the ministry of Disaster Relief as those on site in the disaster area.

You can be part of the DR ministry by praying for the chaplains and other volunteers who respond to offer help, hope, and healing to disaster survivors.

 

Pray for open eyes to see inner needs.

Reflections of a Disaster Relief Worker

Disaster relief child care

This month in Mission Friends, we will learn about chaplaincy in disaster relief. Several years ago, I felt led to receive training in Disaster Relief Child Care through Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, which is part of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief through the North American Mission Board. Though the Disaster Relief Child Care workers are not officially trained as Disaster Relief chaplains, I feel that we serve in a similar capacity to the children as we care for them and help them at the time of a disaster. I have been privileged to serve on Disaster Relief Child Care teams in a couple different places. One was a year following hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and in northeast Alabama the week following the 2011 tornadoes. These are some of my reflections on serving in disaster relief.

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