Recently, I was told by a sweet, well-meaning preschool teacher that I didn’t need to get out so much stuff for one of our multiple teaching hours at church. After all, not many preschoolers come to that particular session. I understand the reasons behind the question. And, fewer teaching supplies mean less time cleaning up.
However, I enjoy choosing puzzles, toys, blocks, art supplies, and other teaching materials. As I gather the stuff, I think about the delight in the preschoolers’s eyes as they enter a room at church with fun, Bible learning waiting to happen. So, the next time you’re tempted to skimp on the things you gather for preschoolers, keep these five thoughts in mind:
1. God has wired preschoolers differently.
They need to be able to choose activities according to how God has created them to learn. Physical learners need to move. Visual learners need things at which to look. Verbal and relational learners need to talk. Reflective learners need to ponder, and natural learners need to explore. Musical learners need rhythm and music, while logical learners need structure.
2. A variety of learning materials provide more opportunities for teacher-child interactions.
When a preschooler chooses to do another activity, the teacher can continue Bible conversation since the child’s focus is renewed.
3. Preschoolers have short attention spans.
As a rule of thumb, a preschooler’s attention span is one minute for every year of his age. Hence, a three-year-old may lose interest in an activity after only three minutes, unless the activity offers continual change.
4. Busy preschoolers equal fewer behavior problems.
What do preschoolers do when they don’t have anything constructive to do? That’s correct, they often find something destructive to do!
5. Preschoolers are curious.
They will wonder about what toys and art supplies you might furnish the next time they come to church. Keep their imaginations alive!
As you gather teaching materials for your next session with preschoolers, choose at least one toy, puzzle or art supply that you haven’t used in a while. The kids will be excited, and so will you!
Landry Holmes is Manager of Kids Ministry Publishing, Lifeway Christian Resources. He teaches preschoolers and elementary kids at his church in Middle Tennessee. Landry and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and a beautiful daughter-in-law. When they’re not working or at church, they’re entertaining their rat terrier Ranger (named after the Texas Rangers baseball team).