Not too long ago, one of our neighbors gave my wife a book published in 1959 by what is now known as LifeWay Christian Resources. The book is Improving Nursery Departments by Polly Hargis Dillard. I thought writing a three-part “Lessons from 1959” series from the book might be fun. However, I must first address the proverbial “elephant in the room.”
When I first started in kids ministry, I was taught we didn’t use the word “nursery.” A nursery was where plants were grown. A few years in, one of my mentors—a well-known preschool ministry leader—wisely told me that what we call the area at church where preschoolers are cared for is not as important as what we do in that area. The remainder of this post focuses on what we do, not only in the preschool area at church, but in the elementary ministry as well.
In her book, Dillard presents a checklist of 17 questions that preschool teachers should ask themselves in order to evaluate their potential areas of growth. I have chosen to condense that list to the following 10 questions and pose them to both preschool and elementary volunteers at church:
- Do I really like children; am I a friend to children?
- Do I see the world as a child sees it; do I use words which the children understand?
- Do I let the children do as much as they are able to do for themselves; am I eager to grow and learn more about children’s interests, development, and guidance?
- Do I treat children with as much consideration and respect as I do adults; do I see and understand each child as a growing person?
- Do I laugh with the children and not at them?
- Do I appreciate and work well with parents; do I work well with fellow workers?
- Do I give of myself in time, love, and service; do I make thorough preparation for each session?
- Do I study the Bible daily? Do I try to live daily the principles which I find in the Bible?
- Do I recognize that behind behavior there is a reason; do I try to find the reason?
- Am I sensitive to the needs of the children and to what they are feeling and thinking?
How did you do? In what areas do you need to grow the most? The purpose of this list is to be encouraged and to remember these words from Polly Dillard, “Effective workers are always growing workers.” So keep loving, keep learning, keep growing, and keep teaching.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to LifeWay. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and two daughters-in-law.