At the risk of sounding cliché, preschool ministry looks different than it did before COVID-19 became a household term. One of those differences is how preschoolers gather for Bible study and worship.
Some preschoolers are attending church in person. However, many preschool parents are reluctant to leave their children in a classroom at church. They may either stay home, or keep their preschoolers with them at church. That leads us to explore how to teach preschoolers the Bible effectively whether they come to the church building or not.
At my church, preschoolers only recently commenced gathering with other kids at church. When COVID-19 first hit, we began doing preschool Sunday School online every Sunday morning. After preschoolers started coming back to the church building on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, we decided to keep meeting virtually for Sunday School.
Here are six tips we’ve learned about teaching preschoolers virtually that may help you and your church as you reach preschool families that are not ready to return to church:
- Brevity is a virtue. Limit each week’s online session to less than 30 minutes, or you’ll find yourself talking to an empty room on the other side of your computer screen. Remember, you control the time online. Develop a simple teaching outline that includes games, songs, prayer, and a Bible story.
- Interaction is helpful. If you think preschoolers have short attention spans at church, just try to keep them engaged through a computer screen! Play games and sing songs with motions to keep preschoolers focused on the learning experience.
- Printed materials are useful. Even though you may choose to use presentation software to show posters and pictures, be sure to let the preschoolers see you holding a physical Bible. Also, change up your routine sometimes and hold up a physical teaching picture or Bible verse poster instead of relying on a presentation slide. In addition, follow up each virtual session by mailing a hardcopy of the weekly take-home page.
- Relationships are valuable. Make the experience personal and recognize each child by name. Also, encourage other preschool teachers to hop on the computer. Kids like seeing their teachers, even virtually. For an extra bonus, invite your pastor to make an appearance from time to time.
- Flexibility is needed. In order to reach as many preschoolers as possible, adopt a hybrid teaching model. Include both virtual and in-person teaching times every week.
- Breaks are okay. The business world has taught us during this pandemic season that we can experience virtual meeting fatigue. To prevent burnout, take a break occasionally and let someone else lead the virtual teaching experience. Not only will you get a break, but you’ll be equipping volunteers for ministry.
How long should your preschool ministry continue to meet virtually, even after preschoolers start coming to church physically? That depends on the context of your church and community. I suggest we keep meeting virtually until all preschool parents feel comfortable leaving their children in a preschool room. A free resource that may help you navigate how to minister to and teach preschoolers regardless of their physical location is Lifeway’s Kids Ministry From Anywhere webpage.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ongoing Bible Studies and Network Partnerships, Nashville, TN, and is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of It’s Worth It: Uncovering How One Week Can Transform Your Church and general editor of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, Landry is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. He teaches kids at his church in Middle Tennessee, where his wife Janetta is the Preschool Minister. They enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and their wives, and spoiling their grandchildren.