Toddlers and Preschoolers—Oh My!

Preschool //

Planning for Fall in the Summer

As if you don’t already have a ton to do in the summer with children’s ministry—VBS, camp, musical, etc.—you have to be planning and preparing for the fall.

I have been a children’s director for about 20 years. It seems that every fall there is one class that always surprises me in terms of numbers. Two-year-olds! Yes, you heard me, two-year-olds. They seem to come out of the woodwork during the summer. I have a theory that:

  • parents have gotten over the hump of illnesses that plague every one-year-old,
  • parents are no longer afraid to leave them with a caregiver, and
  • the children are old enough to really learn great truths.

So now families are getting back into the swing of regular attendance on Sundays. In the nurseries the attendance was sporadic and you didn’t notice the large numbers (except maybe Easter), so now as you plan for the fall you come to the realization that if you group the two- and three-year-olds together, you have the potential for 31 students!?! How can that be?

Oh yeah, that family with the triplets who just turned two did join, so when they come, we have been getting crowded. Oh, and we do have the new little one adopted from China who’s two as well and so cute! Does this sound like a scenario you have faced?

We often face the great joys of growth in children’s ministry, but it comes along with some serious challenges as well. No adult in their right mind wants to be in charge of a class of 31 two- and three-year-olds—not even me, and this is one of my favorite age groups! We need to split the class, and that means finding another bathroom-ready room, recruiting a new set of teachers for each hour, more curriculum, and ultimately more “goldfish.”

Tips to help you:

  • Mark your two-year-old class room by birthdays so that it will essentially remain the same over the course of the year except for new members/visitors. (Birthdays from 9-1-2014 to 8-31-2015)
  • Don’t let nursery children promote to this room when they turn two. It can bring chaos.
  • Instead, have a transitional room for those coming out of the nursery who are turning two or leave them in the nursery and encourage a story and activity for the older ones turning two. (GCP has some ideas for you!)
  • Do the same for each preschool classroom.
    • 3-year-olds (Birthdays from 9-1-2013 to 8-31-2014)
    • 4-year-olds (Birthdays from 9-1-2012 to 8-31-2013)

 

Every July it has been my job to count the number of kids who will be in each classroom and make sure I have enough curriculum and supplies (crayons, markers, glue sticks, stickers, etc.) to cover every age group. Also I have to make sure that we have the right number and size of tables and chairs in every room. These may seem like mundane jobs, but essential in every children’s ministry.

 

As the summer is upon us with all of its challenges, try to set aside some time for fall planning that will help you be not quite so crazy when the fall arrives. Happy planning!

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About the Author

B. A. has more than 20 years’ experience as a children’s director in churches ranging in size from 200 to 4,000 but finds her passion is the same no matter how many children she’s serving. Show the children Jesus. Teach the kids all of the Bible so they see that the stories from the Old Testament point to Jesus and that the New Testament shows how Jesus fulfilled God’s promises—yesterday, today, and forever. B. A. began her formal ministry as a children’s director and consultant in 1993, but she has taught and led music for children since she was in junior high school. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and taught college until the Lord called her to seminary and full-time ministry. She graduated with a master’s degree in Christian Education from Columbia International University. Speaking at conferences, consulting with leadership, and training teachers brought her to Great Commission Publications (www.gcp.org) in 2014 as the Children’s Ministry Consultant and Marketing Coordinator.