PRESCHOOL CHILDREN'S CHURCH (Ages 3-5)

Preschool Children's Church is an opportunity for preschoolers (children, three to five years old, who aren't yet in K-5) to engage in Bible-based learning at their own level. In the regular church services, they are likely to become bored fairly quickly, and may begin to distract others from hearing the messages. With a child-helper ratio average of 6:1, class size is fairly small, allowing individualized attention given to each child.

Class begins with prayer and refreshments - usually cookies or crackers and a non-sustaining drink, such as apple juice. This starts the class off on a positive note, and helps to calm newer children, who may find it hard to be separated from their parents. Special care is taken regarding children with food allergies. For these children, safe snacks (such as Cheerios) are available, or a parent may prefer to bring a snack for the child.

Following snack time, the children are encouraged to throw away their empty cups and napkins. Then, they may begin working with puzzles or reading books at their age level. This is the time that class helpers take small groups of children to the restroom. The helpers (and older children) also assist children with their puzzles and reading, as requested.

Next, is story time. Bible stories from the previous Sunday School lessons are reviewed and applied to everyday life. Through the stories and practical application, the children learn to obey, love and trust God, believe the Bible, be kind and helpful, encourage others, appreciate their families (especially siblings), be thankful, praise God, better understand salvation and creation, and how to witness. The stories are short, and taught at an age-appropriate level.

Following story time, there is a picture to color, which reminds them of one of the stories. The children learn to share crayons, and to use them responsibly. The last activity involves the children in singing church songs. They learn to sing together and to praise God in song. Often, the songs include some kind of motion, such as arm/hand movements, squatting and clapping. If time permits, each child can request a song(s) they would like for everyone to sing, and may even help to lead the class in that song.

When the parent(s) or older sibling arrive to pick up a child, the other children may resume reading a book until their parent comes. Children are encouraged to hold on to their coloring sheets and other belongings, and be sure they have them when they leave.

As you can see, Preschool Children's Church involves children in many activities designed to help them learn to follow classroom rules, such as staying in their seats and talking quietly, socializing with others, sharing, and being responsible. This ministry offers teens and adults the opportunities to assist with the class, maintain order, provide individualized attention, and even teach the stories, if they so desire. About every three months, a schedule is prepared and distributed to all helpers. Helpers also assist by bringing refreshments each Sunday on a rotating basis.

In the weeks leading up to the annual Christmas program, part of each class time is devoted to practicing for it. Together, the children practice walking in a straight line, singing songs, using props, quoting verses and poems - all the while, being encouraged to stand in one place, sing and speak loudly enough to be heard, and smile enthusiastically. Additional rehearsals are held the two Saturday mornings before the actual performance in December.