Our role for the little ones four years and under in our ministries during the Christmas season is to show them that God Loves them. How do they know that? We tell them that Jesus Loves Love.
Sometimes we assume that preschoolers think like we do or like we did when we were kids. Stop this season and consider what these young ones need at their stage of this journey. What do they need physically, mentally, relationally, culturally, emotionally and morally to discover the love of Jesus? Preschoolers blend reality with imagination and learn best through their senses. If we approach this season with activities that meet all of these needs they will remember it even more. Just don’t tell the story but think how you can challenge them with object lessons that use all of their senses.
In the nursery, consider how to teach each infants and crawlers to feel safe in their environment and learn to trust not only their caregiver but Jesus. Ask volunteers to consider serving all month to establish consistency for the babies to feel safe. Have them show pictures of baby Jesus and saying his name. Have them learn to pat the Bible and say what it is.
In the toddler room, help these young ones to develop confidence in their stages of walking, putting together puzzles, playing with cookie cutter shapes of the nativity. Explain to them each character in the manger scene as they play with the objects of a nativity. In the older preschool children help them to have confidence in knowing how to know that God loves them. Tell them He gave them Jesus. Focus on music and having the kids celebrate his birth.
Partner with parents this month by reminding them to do these three things with their small children:
- Use their story time to build their confidence in a really big God that gave them Jesus.
- Help them see, feel, hear, and taste with activities to understand how God loves them.
- Have a predictable devotional time with them during this busy season.
Give your families resources through this advent season that is age appropriate. Post them on Social media, give them postcards to take home, or even make them a box of goodies to make a birthday cake for Jesus. This will help them to know how to put it into practice when you sit, when you walk, when you lie down and when you get up.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9