It’s been a long time since I have taught preschoolers. Actually, I never enjoyed teaching preschoolers until I had my own children. These little beings a third of my size who couldn’t read, couldn’t tie their own shoes and needed help in the bathroom intimidated me! I was so uptight when I was with them. I fretted over how I could possibly keep up with these 40 pound bundles of energy that would collectively fuel a space shuttle. I was exhausted by their need to change activities every three to five minutes and I had the constant feeling I was half an activity away from losing complete control over my classroom.
My own children taught me to relax and “go with the moment,” Instead of expecting preschoolers to cram into my structured lesson plan, I learned to grab the teachable moment, to look for chances to slip in God’s truths or God’s stories. As we strung Fruit Loops on sewing thread to make Christmas tree garlands, we talked about the need to share and take turns. We talked about the colors of the Fruit Loops, how many Fruit Loops I have on my string compared to yours, and how do you spell the word “red?”. We sang songs about Baby Jesus and planned ways we could do something special for Baby Jesus this Christmas.
As my own children grew older, my husband and I found ourselves often telling them, “You do a job not because you like it or because it’s easy. You do it because it needs to be done and you just do the best you can even though your best may not be as good as someone else’s best.” My girls have taken those words to heart and have risen to new levels of competence because they were willing to try things that, at first, seemed difficult.
Now it’s time for me to eat my own words. Guess where I spent last Sunday? Teaching preschoolers in our church’s Wee Worship program. Did I enjoy it? Well, there were moments that were more pleasurable than others. Was I uptight? Yes, but not as much as I used to be. I’ve realized I’ve learned how to relax and enjoy the journey and listen to the children so I can keep learning. More on that in my next blog.
So why did I go back to teaching preschool? I needed to train some new recruits for our preschool worship program and the best way for me to teach them was to be a model teacher. Already, my first helper promises to become a far better preschool teacher than I am. She has a rapport with that age of children, she’s organized and creative. She doesn’t mind spending hours cutting up visuals and decorations, stuff that I abhor. She’ll make a good teacher. She just needed guidance on what to teach and how to teach from a lesson plan, to know the routine we expected in our Children’s church program, and to observe how to work God-talk into everything we did. I could teach her these things, because I learned to do the job that needed to be done and, in spite of my own weaknesses, to do my best. Sure, teaching preschoolers is exhausting and humbling. But the true pleasure comes from knowing, I’m planting in those little minds seeds of faith in a powerful and loving God who will never let them down.