Last summer, I decided to take a year off from teaching adult Bible classes on Sunday mornings to teach Sunday School. The one class that still needed a teacher was the preschool/kindergarten class. I love to teach, its one of my strengths, but did I have what it takes to handle the littlest ones? There was only one way to find out.
A year has gone by and it has been a wonderful blessing and experience for me. The materials we ordered from Concordia Publishing house were excellent, and provided me with more than enough ideas to keep the children interested and busy for an hour. I also have to thank Shari our preschool director, who has taught me so much about working with that age level for the last nineteen years. I’m also grateful that Sharon, one of our members who teaches kindergarten and first grade in the public schools, allowed me to volunteer in her class once a week. I learned something from her about teaching, classroom management, and discipline every time I am there.
Here’s what I’ve learned about teaching this age group:
- Stickers rule. Every single child loves stickers. You cannot have too many stickers.
- You also can’t have too much glue. We go through bottles of glue and glue sticks at an alarming rate. This is because the younger you are, the more glue you must use for a craft project.
- Everyone needs their own container of crayons. A big bucket to share doesn’t work. But if everyone has a small container of crayons, they will share with each other. (Crayons are also homogeneous. For example, all the orange crayons will end up in one container.)
- Give them a job. Everyone wants to help, so let them handle as many classroom tasks as you can. From handing out supplies to cleaning up, they all want something to do.
- If any child gets a hold of a stapler, everything will end up with a staple in it.
- Whoever taught me that a child’s attention span was the same number of minutes as their age was correct. After the opening, it will take twelve activities to keep a four-year-old busy for 48 minutes.
- They want to do it themselves. Cutting, drawing, stapling, folding, gluing, tying, coloring and sticking stickers. So have all the hard stuff done ahead of time (like a hard shape to cut out). Once you’re in the room, you have to let them do it.
- They absolutely love Jesus! (Even more than stickers!) They love everything about him. At this age, every story about his life and ministry reinforces their faith in an amazing way.
- They are always hungry.
- The time I have with them each week flies by. Attendance stickers, a page to color, a story to tell, a story leaflet to put stickers on, a song to sing, a verse to learn, and some crafts to make — before I know it, the parents have arrived to pick them up.
- Very few children attend every week because the most active families only come twice a month at best. There are trips, illness, sleepovers, work and sports events that take up previously open weekend time.
- Not one can sit in a chair for more than a minute. They either fall off, get up to reach something, get up to pick up something they dropped, come over to get my attention, or whatever. Perpetual motion!
I am about to return to teaching adults on Sunday mornings. It will probably take me a few weeks to adapt. Adult students tend to sit quietly passive in class and dare you to get them to talk. Maybe I will try stickers.