Preschool Leaders

Missions Explorers

Project Learning

Preschoolers can do project learning. In Mission Friends project learning is what Missions Explorers is all about. It’s fun, and it’s easy. And it’s optional. Here are some things to remember when doing projects with young children:

Set up a special area in your classroom for project learning. Include necessary supplies and additional materials such as brochures, books, teaching pictures (many are on the Internet), and a box, pocket folder, or large envelope where preschoolers can keep their work.

Label supplies and keep them in separate boxes such as one for crayons, one for scissors, one for paper, etc.

As preschoolers investigate and learn more about their project, make a list of what they have learned on chart paper. Or have them draw what they have investigated and done on butcher paper. Preschoolers can draw or write about their findings.

Be sure to have a time for sharing what preschoolers have learned while working on their project(s). Invite parents and guests to attend the Project Presentation.

Talking to Parents

Teacher and Parent

Three-year-old Monica’s face lit up as her mom showed her baby sister to our preschool class. We were focusing on the Christian concept area family, and I asked Monica’s mom to be our guest in our class. She took the baby out of the car seat and held her, and talked with our preschoolers about the ways she cares for the baby. We asked Monica questions about what she did to care for the baby, too. Monica was so happy to have her own mom and baby sister as part of our class that day.

Parents enjoy being involved in their preschooler’s class, and preschoolers love having their parents in their class. As you teach about missions, it strengthens families as you involve parents in various ways. Parents may not know how they can serve as volunteers, so take the initiative to ask. Give a specific task they can do. Some tasks may be something they do one time, and other ways of volunteering may be ongoing.

Use this list of ways parents can volunteer and be involved in your Mission Friends®.

  • Tell the mission story in Group Time one week. Provide the story ahead of time so they can prepare.

Ministering to Military Families

Project HELP logo

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.

  • Commit to pray daily for the families. Send a note or message to let them know, so they can draw strength from knowing of your prayers.

  • For multiple families, set up a prayer plan among preschool teachers at church.

  • Listen with a heart of compassion.

  • Make care packages for families.

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 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.

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.

Project HELP: PTSD Helping Families with Financial Stress

Financial difficulties

Though the song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many families the Christmas season is the most stressful time of the year. This can be a particularly difficult time for parents who are under financial stress, as they struggle to provide for their family. The pressures of providing Christmas gifts for their children is great.

Financial stress for families can be caused by the loss of a job, an ongoing illness or hospitalization, divorce, or the death of a family member. Some families are in financial stress because of spending practices, credit card debt, or lack of budgeting. Be prepared to minister to families who are under financial stress.

  • Be sensitive to the needs of families who may be in situations of financial stress. Keep information confidential.

  • Be aware that financial stress is not just about money. Emotional and social issues may also be involved, such as pride, self-confidence, or loss of purpose.

  • Listen to the parent so you can determine opportunities in which you can be of help.

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