Preschoolers

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.

Week of the Young Child

Preschooler and bubbles

Let’s celebrate our preschoolers next week for Week of the Young Child! April 24–28 is designated as Week of the Young Child across the country to rejoice over our youngest learners, their families, and their teachers. Start planning at least one way to celebrate Week of the Young Child in your church. We’ll get you started with the ideas below.

  • Emphasize how your Mission Friends share God’s love with others through Helping Others activities. Plan a Helping Others activity for next week’s session in Mission Friends®. See Mission Friends Leader, page 28, for two ideas for Helping Others activities this month.

  • Make a hallway display to celebrate your preschoolers. Place a large piece of butcher paper on the floor for each preschooler, and have the preschooler lie down on the paper. Trace around the outline of each preschooler, then have them draw their own features and clothes. Display these in the preschool area of your church.

Oh, Those Babies, Ones, and Twos! Part 3

Terrific Twos

I think they should be known as Terrific Twos! If you teach two-year-olds, you know how terrific they can be, as well as what a challenge they can be. During this year, twos really move out of the baby stage of life as they grow in so many ways. Twos begin to do many things for themselves, but may still be like a baby at times. The word mine can be heard over and over, which is the result of their growing independence. They begin to speak in sentences and ask questions. Twos gain in the use of the small muscles of their hands as they hold crayons or pound play dough. We can guide them to learn about missions as they use their new skills as two-year-olds.

  • Say the Bible thoughts often. Relate Bible thoughts to activities. As twos look at nature items in a box, tell them: The Bible tell us, Look at the wonderful things God made (see Job 37:14).

Oh, Those Babies, Ones, and Twos! Part 2

Toddler

How would I describe a one-year-old? On the go! During this year one-year-olds literally take off with their newfound large muscle skills. We call them “toddlers” because of the way they bump and wobble around as they learn to step, walk, and then run. This is when they begin to climb too. They not only develop in the use of their legs, but their arms also. This is known as the “dump and fill” stage as they use their arm muscles to dump everything out of a container and then refill it. While this is a year to gain in large muscle development, ones also gain ground in their speech and vocabulary. Those ones are such fun, and we can help them use these new skills to learn about missions and Jesus’ love.

  • Use the Bible with ones by saying Bible thoughts as they turn the pages. Say a short statement about a picture in the Bible, such as “The four friends helped their friend to see Jesus.”

Decoding the WMU Emphasis for Preschoolers—Cultivate Relationships

preschoolers painting

I introduced four-year-old Barrett, a first-time visitor, to Maverick and Charlie as they built in the Blocks area. I needed to speak to Barrett’s mom, and when I looked back over at the boys, they were playing, laughing, and building together. For the rest of the Mission Friends® session, the three boys were inseparable. I was so glad to see how easily our Mission Friends befriended a new preschooler.

One of the purposes of the WMU emphasis, By All Means, is to encourage those who follow Christ to cultivate relationships with the people around them. For preschoolers, we can help them to know how they can be a friend to others. How can you lead preschoolers in being friends with others?

  • Give preschoolers opportunities to work together. Encourage them to build or make something together.

  • Plan activities in which preschoolers cooperate with one another. For example, they make a mural together.

  • Pair preschoolers to do movement activities together.

How Preschoolers Learn

How Preschoolers Learn through Play

The preschool years (age birth to five) are crucial for brain development. In fact, 85% of total brain growth happens by age three! Preschoolers are taking in so much information and learning so much, all while doing it in their own little ways. When children are in the preschool years, they are still learning all new things and taking in the world around them, and putting everything they see and learn into categories in their minds (called adaptation), or they make new categories for totally new information (called accommodation). The best way to help them learn about the world around them and help them put information into those categories is through play!

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:

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