Preschool Leaders

Decode the WMU Emphasis for Preschoolers: I Can Help Others

By All Means

From a young age, we want to involve preschoolers in helping others and sharing God’s love with others. Here are a few examples of Helping Others activities from different Mission Friends groups:

  • Packing items for personal hygiene kits for a missions team to give people in Nicaragua.

  • Making sandwiches to include in sack lunches for a ministry to homeless people.

  • Taking cookies to a local fire station to thank the firefighters for their work.

In the WMU emphasis, By All Means, we are encouraged to step into the world around us. We must make connections with others in order to share God’s love and His Word with them. For preschoolers, this means giving them opportunities to help others. Lead your preschoolers to know of ways they can help others around them. This could be as simple as being a helper by passing out the napkins at snack time. We can also lead preschoolers to be more intentional in serving others through the Helping Others activities we plan for them to become involved in.

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?

  • Ÿ3s and 4s are still developing the large muscles of their arms, and progressing to the hands and fingers. Use the large-size paper at the easel for painting or at the table for drawing so there is room for their arm to sweep across the page. The thicker preschool crayons and paintbrushes allow for easier gripping with their hand muscles.

  • ŸGive opportunities for 3s and 4s to manipulate objects or move things around. Provide cardboard tubes and blocks for them to build Middle Eastern buildings in Blocks. Using the large wooden beads to make patterns helps them use their hands in moving the beads around.

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 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.

Communicating with Parents—Behavior Issues

communicating with parents

Open, positive communication is essential to developing good relationships with parents and preschoolers, so if you have any concerns or questions about a preschooler’s behavior, it’s very important to communicate with his parents.

When working with the preschool age group, behavior problems are inevitable. Preschoolers are loud and boisterous, letting their little personalities out in the only way that they know how. They experience emotions very deeply and strongly, and they don’t always have the emotional and social tools to let them out effectively.

Grabbing Preschoolers’ Attention: Telling the Story

Group Time

Once you have grabbed your preschooler’s attention, it’s time to tell the story! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a group of people who love a good story as much as preschoolers do. Storytelling is an essential tool for teaching and engaging with your group, so learning to tell stories with efficiency is an excellent skill to have as a leader! So how does one tell a story that will get and keep preschoolers’ attention, and teach them something valuable?

Here are a few tips on how to be an effective and engaging storyteller!

  • Talk to them like you would talk to anyone else. So often in our society people speak to children with a certain level of condescension. Those little brains can absorb and understand more than you think they can! Also, the older preschoolers may decide to tune you out if they hear you speaking in a way that might be belittling.

  • Put some variety in your voice. Give different characters different voices! Whisper, get loud, be silly, and be goofy! Kids love to laugh and be silly, they will be so much more engaged if you’re willing to be as well.

The True Meaning of Christmas

child and Nativity

What parts of Christmas do we bring into our Mission Friends classrooms at church? There are so many aspects to celebrating Christmas: shopping, gifts, cookies, candies, parties, ornaments, decorations, trees, lights, Santa, elves, snowmen, and greeting cards. There is such cuteness revolving around these aspects of Christmas, it can be easy to leave out the very meaning of Christmas. How do we focus on celebrating that God sent His Son, Jesus? How do we include some of the fun aspects of Christmas while teaching preschoolers about Jesus’ birth? The points below give suggestions for being intentional about teaching preschoolers the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Tell parts of the Christmas story from Luke 2:1–20 during each session. Look for preschool books that tell the true story. I even found a board book at a discount store that told the Christmas story in simple words.

Connect the Dots

growing

A friend has two sons who are 5 years apart in age. The boys’ grandfather marks their growth by putting a mark of their height on a door frame in his home, and labeling the marks with the child’s name and age. They recently noted that the younger son’s mark is higher than when the older son was at the same age. My friend is using that information to predict that the younger son is probably going to be taller than the older son once they are both grown up.

A similar connection can be made between growth in your Mission Friends® and greater missions discipleship within your church. Growth is not simply so you have more numbers to report, but so you will have more girls and boys who are growing in discipleship by learning about missions. As more preschoolers learn about missions, they will then respond to God by praying for missions, giving to missions, and doing missions.

What are some ways to grow Mission Friends?

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