Mon. Jun 21st, 2021

KINDERGARTEN DEPARTMENT 4’S AND 5’S TIME TO TEACH

BY J.O. AND MARY WALLACE RONALD AND EDNA NATION

 

In Matthew 18 Jesus set up “Learning Centers” in order to teach more effectively. He used a little child (probably about Kindergarten age) as a means of teaching proud and stubborn adults about the kingdom
of heaven. This suggests that there is no age limit on faith! No boy or girl who comes to our churches is too young to be nurtured in this great faith. By the same token, no child is too young to have his faith impeded, particularly by some misunderstanding, untrained, untalented teacher. It has been well said, “The loving adult prepares the child to understand and accept God’s love.” How carefully we would teach if only we were wise. Proverbs 4:7 tells us, “Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”

In churches throughout the nation recently there has been an upsurge of interest in teaching, particularly in teaching young children. Pastors and superintendents are exploring new methods, new ideas. Equipment is being purchased and classrooms remodeled and redecorated.

Characteristics of the Kindergartner

In your Kindergarten class you will have as many different personalities as you have 4 and 5-year-olds. Each individual child is important to you, and you are important to him. He needs you to help him become acquainted with your best friend, the one true God, Jesus.

What makes sense to 4 and 5-year-olds? What are they like? One teaching film about early childhood education is entitled, “The Frustrating Fours and the Fascinating Fives.” This is an excellent, brief resume of the characteristics of these little ones.

Most 4’s are adventuresome, noisy and excessively active. It is easy for them to get out of bounds. In the Sunday school classroom they may flit from one center to another, possibly dribbling paint, or knocking over what has been built in the block center. During worship and story time, they may wander away from the group.

Five-year-old children are generally more cooperative, reasonable and purposeful. They like to help. They will listen quietly to the Bible story and ask for another. You can count on most 5’s to cooperate in cleanup time. They have their own creative ideas about things to do, both in the housekeeping center and with scissors and crayons at the art activity table. They are ready and eager to learn.

Because of this great difference, when we need to divide a class, we do not divide by sex (many good teachers share the viewpoint that this is hardly ever necessary) but by age.

Physically, the 5-year-old has good control of his large muscles. The 4’s are more apt to spill, and knock things over. Many 5’s can manage to button their own coats. The 4’s may need much more help. Puzzles, blocks, work with crayons or clay all help a child to develop better physical control of his muscles. Avoid intricate pictures and designs. These children need large sheets of plain newsprint for scribbling and drawing freehand.

Mentally, Kindergartners have a short attention span–10 to 12 minutes. This can be lengthened by effective teaching. Kindergartners can memorize short Bible verses, poems and finger plays. They are
constantly asking questions. “Where do rocks come from? Is this story in the Bible?” A Kindergartner is literal-minded. Asked to draw a picture about the creation story, a Kindergartner carefully drew a car with a man in the front seat and two people in the back seat. When questioned about the picture, the child explained, “Why, that’s God driving Adam and Eve out of the garden.” To a young child the statement
“calling on the Lord” may evoke a mental image of a telephone conversation.

Kindergarten boys seem to have a somewhat shorter attention span than girls. It is a good rule to gauge waning interest by the boys’ response, rather than by the girls’. Outgoing children may have shorter
attention span. A wise teacher will shift activities frequently–from vigorous to quiet activity, and back again.

Socially, fours may regard other children as threats, as they compete for teacher’s attention and affection. A five often has learned that adult attention can be shared, and that other children are fun to play with. Capitalize upon this growing ability to work and play cooperatively.

Emotionally, 4’s and 5’s still have many fears (the dark, being alone, imaginary creatures). A Kindergartner may lose control and need special help for

Spiritually, a Kindergartner is developing a concept of a personal God. “Jesus is my best Friend.” He is beginning to develop a conscience, wonders about heaven, death. After weeds of discussion, telling and re-telling the Christmas story, a small child once asked, “Is it really true? Did Jesus really live?”

The purposes of Bible teaching for young children are many and varied. First of all, we seek to win the love of all our little students. If a child really loves you, he will want to come to church. He will begin to feel that he belongs here. “This is my church.” A sense of identity with the children of God is one of our goals. A child who has been tenderly nurtured in this great truth should always be a misfit in the world. After we have established a love for ourselves and love for our church, then it is easy to help the child to love our
Jesus and want to please Him. He knows the stories in God’s book are really real stories, and he readily believes them.

Although home and family are still the young child’s chief source of security, he is becoming interested in others. He imitates family life in the housekeeping center. “There will be no nonsense in this house,” said one four-year-old, as he spanked the doll soundly and put it to bed. “I must get this ironing done today,” declared an energetic little girl.

Building Kindergartner Self-Discipline

A Kindergartner is not born with the ability to control his own actions. Heredity does not equip a child with good discipline, proper attitudes. Children will learn what they are taught. Proverbs 22:6.

Apparently the critical period of training is the first four or five years of the young child’s life. That is why your job as a Sunday school Kindergarten teacher is so vital. Mistakes made now may prove costly–perhaps tragic for the vulnerable young child.

However, you do realize that your role is not the all important one in the young child’s life. The parents are the basic, indispensable people in the life of the young child. This is not to excuse poor teaching on the part of the Sunday school personnel but it is important that we remember that anything we can do to strengthen the home of the pupil may have far reaching effects on the growth and development of the child.

When the opportunity of the first growing years is missed the prime teaching time in the life of the child is missed perhaps never to return. So now is the time to teach!

To develop a good climate of learning and a well-disciplined classroom, the child needs consistent positive guidance. This is never achieved with either rigid authority or total permissiveness. Both extremes can be hazardous. There is safety only in the middle ground.

“With all thy getting, get understanding ” (Proverbs 4:7). This desirable middle ground is often very hard to find. It is comforting to know, however, that no single mistake makes a great deal of difference. You can make lots of “mistakes” and children will still come through all right. It is your basic relationship that counts.

The loving, kind, concerned teacher sets reasonable limits to behavior in her classroom. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19). An antagonistic, hostile teacher can damage a child with humiliating open rebuke and then the child becomes hostile, aggressive and openly rebellious. The classroom becomes a battle ground of wills rather than a field where the fruits of the spirit are grown.

Children grow best and learn best when they are with adults who are at ease. . .teachers who know how to plan ahead activities that will catch the child’s attention and challenge him. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.

The Kindergarten Teacher

Get Ready To Get Out of The Way

As teachers, what are our goals? There are many we could discuss: instilling the Word into the hearts of our children; teaching them to apply the Word to their own lives; teaching them how to respond to the Spirit; effecting a change for the better in their lives; explaining their need for salvation and seeing them come to the Lord.

With these objectives in mind, let us look for a moment at a familiar passage of Scripture found in Matthew 3:3 “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Although this Scripture refers to John the Baptist, we find that it could in one sense refer to us, for are not our goals strikingly parallel to John’s? Is it not our purpose to prepare the way of the Lord to meet our children?

How do we prepare the Lord’s way? What can we, as teachers, do to prepare the way so the Lord can meet the children entrusted to us?

First of all, we must be prepared ourselves. This means starting on Sunday to get ready for next week’s lesson and studying throughout the week. It means earnest prayer and seeking the mind of the Lord for a particular lesson. It means outside the church communication with the youngsters, whether you schedule regular visits in the home or plan an occasional wiener roast or excursion to some local point of interest.
It means becoming familiar with what is taught on their age level at school. It means examining children’s literature in your local library.

The Saturday night ten-to-midnight preparation for Sunday morning must go. So often we arrive breathless, disorganized and disoriented, lessons only casually prepared. When the children arrive, they catch our preoccupation and we wonder why they can’t settle down! They can’t settle down because we aren’t settled down.

The path that the Sunday school session will take has been preparing in our hearts all week. It’s up to us to determine if the path will be smooth and straight or bumpy and winding. For after all our preparation, we must keep foremost this basic truth: we can prepare the way, but then we must get out of the way so the Lord can walk down the path we’ve made ready. The purpose of our lesson plans and preparation is to be so well organized that we can relax while teaching and concentrate on listening for the voice of the Spirit as we teach.

Staff Needed

Department Superintendent
Associate Superintendent
Secretary

Teachers for the Learning Centers. A good ratio of workers for the Kindergarten Department is one adult for each five children.

Responsibilities Of Each Staff Member

Department Superintendent. Supervises the department. Conducts weekly planning sessions (30 minutes before Wednesday night service may be a suitable time). Conducts monthly planning sessions the last week
of each month, to make plans for the next month. Makes assignments of Learning Centers which each teacher will have for the coming month. (It is a good idea to rotate in the different centers, so that each teacher is familiar with the entire department.) Makes assignment for teachers to attend morning worship. Makes assignments of pupils and prospects to an individual teacher for visitation. Divide the children, to share the responsibility. This may be done geographically. Plans visitations, and checks to see that contacts are made. Greets children as they enter the classroom, and meets new parents as they bring their children. The superintendent is responsible for the main Bible lesson.

Associate Superintendent. Assists the superintendent in her duties. Acts as superintendent when she must be absent. Is responsible for a Learning Center. Is in charge of last group time during Extended Session. This story is rotated among the teachers for experience.

Secretary. Keeps all records. Receives the offering and always explains why we need the offering and what we do with it. Obtains names and addresses of new students. This requires skill because few Kindergartners can relate this information for themselves. Has no Learning Center assignment, but may assist as needed when records are complete.

Teachers. All teachers are expected to attend the weekly and monthly planning sessions. They should be ready, in the weekly session, to discuss their plans for the following Sunday. Thorough preparation must be made for each lesson. Makes contacts of absentees and prospects. The teacher should prepare her center each week to bear out the theme of the lesson. Some things from previous lessons should be used for review. Plan for something new and different in decoration or lesson presentation each Sunday. Each teacher has an opportunity to tell the story in the Extended Session to the entire group when her turn comes. A good teacher is always a student. She should read widely, background Bible material as well as training material. She must be a devoted, consecrated Christian, with an abiding love for children.

The Kindergarten Classroom

Does your Kindergarten classroom attract or repel little children? A spacious, spic and span classroom, decorated in pleasing colors, and equipped with child size furnishings says, “Hello, we’re glad you came to our church. We like boys and girls just your size. We know what you like, and we have planned this room just for you.” A small, cramped, dreary room, furnished with regimented rows of adult size chairs, cast off toys (if any), and cluttered with old Sunday school materials, says, “Children are not very important. The time spent here is not important. Sit down and shut up; we’ll get this over as quickly as possible, then forget it.”

Perhaps you are the proud teacher of a perfectly equipped, spacious room. What can you do to keep it that way? First of all, lay down some ground rules about care of materials and equipment. “Keep all the puzzle pieces on the table, so that none will be lost. Press the excess paint out of your brush against the side of the paint can and you won’t have so many dribbles. Blocks are to build with, not to hit people with.”

Some rules are in order for teachers, also. Be sure that each piece of material and equipment is in place before you leave. File those pictures away carefully; you will need them later. Save seasonal posters and decorations. Don’t forget to wash all brushes carefully, so that they will not get hard. Paint should be stored in covered containers. All Playdoh must be kept in an air-tight container.

In most Kindergarten classrooms, however, there is some room for improvements. If your problem is space, what can you do about it? There should be 20 to 25 square feet of floor space per child (15 square feet is an absolute minimum). Is there any room at all available in the church plant?

Is a dark, dreary basement room all that is available? Your answer is paint, paint, paint! Everything should be sparkling white or sunshiny yellow, with a few other colors, perhaps apple green and paprika, for contrast. It doesn’t cost anymore to paint equipment apple green and paprika than battleship grey and brindle brown, but what a difference to a child! You will certainly need adequate lighting. Although your windows may be few and small, keep them crystal clean, and do not shroud them with dingy curtains.

Learning Centers and Equipment

Block Center–Open shelves for storage. Block Busters; Unit Blocks; small trucks and cars, animals (both farm and wild), a Bible time model house, and an ark are good accessories. An area rug makes the center quieter and more comfortable.

Nature Center–Open shelves and nature materials. Books and pictures related to different collections as exhibited, for example: a book about birds near two or three nests. Nothing artificial.

Puzzle Center–Table, chairs, wooden puzzles (practical, nature, animal and Bible subjects). Puzzles should have ten to fifteen pieces. Avoid cardboard puzzles. Puzzle rack–optional, but desirable.

Housekeeping Center–Child size stove, cabinet, table and chairs, bed. Such things as a chest, ironing board, iron, small rocker and doll-size highchair may be added. You will also need cooking utensils,
silverware, dishes, dust pan, small broom, mop, dust cloth and apron. Bible-time costumes may be added for playing the story. Dress-up clothes, such as hats and purses, for up-to-date application of the lesson. Two or three dolls. Dolls that are large enough to wear infant’s clothing are desirable. This equipment must be sturdy. Ordinary play equipment is too lightweight, and cannot be used successfully by a large group of children.

Book Center–Book rack, table and chairs, good supply of books on the Kindergarten level. Bible stories, as well as nature and practical themes, make good selections. Patronize your local public library so that you may have a good variety of books for your class.

Paint Center–Painting easel, table and chairs, tempera paint (powdered is less expensive.) Plain newsprint for both the easel and the drawing table. You will also need large non roll crayons and colored chalk. Smocks to protect children’s

Nature Center–Open shelves and nature materials. Books and pictures related to different collections as exhibited, for example: a book about birds near two or three nests. Nothing artificial.

Puzzle Center–Table, chairs, wooden puzzles (practical, nature, animal and Bible subjects). Puzzles should have ten to fifteen pieces. Avoid cardboard puzzles. Puzzle rack-optional, but desirable.

Housekeeping Center–Child size stove, cabinet, table and chairs, bed. Such things as a chest, ironing board, iron, small rocker and doll-size highchair may be added. You will also need cooking utensils,
silverware, dishes, dust pan, small broom, mop, dust cloth and apron. Bible-time costumes may be added for playing the story. Dress-up clothes, such as hats and purses, for up-to-date application of the lesson. Two or three dolls. Dolls that are large enough to wear infant’s clothing are desirable. This equipment must be sturdy. Ordinary play equipment is too lightweight, and cannot be used successfully by a large group of children.

Book Center–Book rack, table and chairs, good supply of books on the Kindergarten level. Bible stories, as well as nature and practical themes, make good selections. Patronize your local public library so that you may have a good variety of books for your class.

Paint Center–Painting easel, table and chairs, tempera paint (powdered is less expensive.) Plain newsprint for both the easel and the drawing table. You will also need large non roll crayons and colored chalk. Smocks to protect children’s clothes may be made by taking the collars off men’s shirts (smaller the better), cut the sleeves off some, and button them in the back.

Extra Activity Table And Chairs–These are for workbook time or other craft work in the extended session. The extra table is needed, also, when you have an overflow class.

Teaching Or Worship Center–Teaching table, picture rail, small picture easel, removable Bible stand for large Bible. Chair for teacher.

Secretary Desk And Chair

Children’s Chairs–One for each person present, including staff. Everyone sits in small chairs. Size, ten inches for four-year-olds and twelve inches high for five-year-olds.

Tack Board–18 to 24 inches wide and five to six feet long.

Coat Rack For Children And Adults

Open Shelf Storage–For supplies that the children need and can reach; scissors, paste, crayons, etc.

Equipment–Tables should be 10 inches higher than chairs. They may vary in size for different centers from 30 x 24 to 36 x 24 to 30 x 48. A round table, 48 inches in diameter, is very good. You can also add variety by using two or three attractive colors in your equipment. Shelf units for nature and blocks should be at least 36 inches wide, 26 inches high and 12 inches deep. If you have space, allow more shelf space. Smaller tables are used in the housekeeping center and teaching center

Supplies To Have On Hand

Puzzles (wooden are better and last much longer). 12 to 15 pieces in each puzzle.
Block busters
Unit blocks
Optional: Small trucks, cars, buses, farm and wild animals, a Bible time house and an ark.
Nature Materials–leaves, rocks, shells, nuts, bird nest, wasp nest, hornet nest, potted plant, flowers, fish and aquarium, terrarium, etc.
Toy iron
Scissors
Smocks
Staple machine
Hole punch
Sponge
Paint brushes (1/2 to 1/4/. inch wide)
Tempera paint (Assorted colors, powdered)
Liquid starch for finger paint, and to mix with easel paint.
Records on Kindergarten level
Spatter mop
Plastic pail
Waste baskets
Plastic dishes
Cookware
Silverware
Rolling pen
Cookie cutter
Doll and clothes
Bed linens for doll bed
Dish cloths
Good selection of books
Newsprint
Construction paper
Crayons, (Large non-roll)
Plasti-Tak
Brads
Thumb tacks
Paper paste
Colored chalk

A generous supply of teaching pictures is needed. May be kept in a master file so that they will be accessible to tall teachers. The following categories are needed: worship, nature children, practical, food, birds, animals (farm and wild), missionary, Old and New Testament Bible pictures. Magazines (especially the “Ideal” magazine), newspaper, calendars are good sources for pictures.

Mount pictures on poster paper, bind them with colored plastic tape, and spray them with acrylic spray for pictures. With proper care, these pictures should last for years.

Kindergarten Schedule

9:20 Arrival time for all staff workers.
Arrival Activity time. Children are free to choose the
until 10:20 Learning Center.
10:20-10:25 Clean up time.
10:25-10:50 Group time. Worship, singing, prayer, Bible Story.
10:50-11:00 Bathroom time.
11:00-11:10 Rest time.
11:10-11:20 Snack time.
11:20-11:40 Activity time. Learning Centers.
11:40-11:45 Clean up time.
11:45-12:00 Group time. Worship, practical story, child participation.

A Typical Sunday Morning in a Kindergarten Department

Plans have been carefully made at the weekly planning session. All supplies and equipment are in place. Decorations related to the theme of the lesson have given the room a new and different look from last Sunday. All absentees were contacted, and several new prospects are expected.

As the children arrive, the superintendent is near the door to greet each child. The secretary is seated at the desk near the door. Each teacher is at her assigned Learning Center. After children have been welcomed, they give their love offering, hang up coats, put purses on shelf. They are then free to go to any Learning Center they choose, and stay until group time if they wish, or move from one center to another. No one is forced to stay in any particular part of the room, but may go where he is interested.

A young child is curious, and interested in many things. His attention span is short, so we plan a room with many areas of interest for him. His learning experience is enriched, his imagination challenged, his interest captivated. “What’s this? Turtles in the nature center today?” “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have
to get dinner ready. Jesus may come home with Zacchaeus today.” “Hmmm, new books! Who’s been to the library?” “Sister Wallace, may I water our plant today?”

Each teacher is fully prepared to teach, using her particular center as a base to operate from. This part of the morning session we refer to as Activity Time. It may be referred to simply as Welcome Time, because there is no formal opening time. Each child begins to learn as he arrives. No time is lost waiting until the lesson begins. During this period the teachers’ responsibility is as follows: She helps the children feel a warm welcome, reviews last Sunday’s Bible lesson and memory verse, teaches today’s Bible verse, lays the
foundation for the Bible lesson (although she does not completely tell the Bible story). All of this is accomplished as the children are building something in the block center, working in the housekeeping
center, working puzzles, examining the fine points of some God made item in the nature center, browsing through an interesting book, or painting a picture. With young children is no sharp line between play
and work. Learning is a rich enjoyable experience in a carefully-planned Kindergarten department.

At the close of Activity Time, a music cue may be given. The children then know that it is time for them to clean the room. Teachers support and guide the children in this responsibility, but the children actually do the cleaning. This, again, is a learning experience. “Everything is kept orderly and clean in God’s house.” As each child completes his share of the cleaning, he then picks up a chair and goes to group time. The superintendent has already taken her seat. Informal conversation is in order at this time. There may be talk about some interesting activity in one of the centers, some information about activities in the home, etc. It is better to allow time for this informally, as the children gather, then you have a right to insist on quiet during the story.

First comes Worship Time, usually begun with a familiar song, prayer request, prayer, more singing, public greeting, introduction of visitors, and birthday acknowledgement. At last it is time for the story, complete with attractive visual aids, and plenty of drama in the voice and facial expressions. This story is never read from the quarterly. It has been studied, revised and made your own, and it is told with only the open Bible as a prop. A brief discussion relating the lesson to today’s living follows, and then the questions. This ends
the first hour of total teaching in the Kindergarten department but w-a-i-t! There is no dismissal. There is simply a smooth transition to Extended Session.

One of the teachers takes a few of the children at a time to the bathroom. As they return, they may get their rest rug (large towel with the child’s name on it; extras on hand for visitors), spread it on the floor and rest for about ten minutes. Any good two-hour program for young children must include this time for rest. Some teachers have the children return to the tables and rest there with heads on the table. Soft music helps to set the stage for relaxing. This time is not lost or wasted, as children are refreshed for the Extended Session.

At the close of rest time, each child folds his towel or rug and takes it to the storage cabinet, where it is stored.

Now it is snack time. Jesus fed His followers when they were hungry, and little children need a little bit of juice or punch and a cookie about this time. Many of the underprivileged children, as well as the late sleepers, come to us without breakfast, anyway, and Sunday dinner is seldom served before 1:00 P.M. This is still a learning experience. Some of the Kindergartners are chosen as helpers, to hand out napkins, pass cookies, and later pass the wastebasket for empty cups, etc. One of the children always prays a prayer of thanksgiving before we eat.

Now we have about forty minutes left. How about some more Activity Time. The children are free again to choose what they are interested in. The teachers are alert for opportunities to relate Bible learning to Kindergarten living. What does sharing and helping mean to a Kindergartner? Use everyday practical applications during this period. Music again tells us it is Cleanup Time. Once more the children first put everything away carefully, then take a chair to group time. There is time for more singing. We may review the memory verse. Prayer is always included, and praise may also be added if there is time.

The teacher who has the responsibility for the Second Hour story may tell a practical story related to the theme taught in the first hour. Puppets or other visuals may be used. This experience serves as in-service training for teachers. A final prayer may be used for dismissal.

All teachers assist in helping children with their wraps, take-home papers, and any paintings or craft work that they have done. Each child should be told how very welcome he was, and that the teacher will certainly be expecting to see him again next Sunday. May we be wise “master builders,” redeeming the time. For “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-11). Thus we “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).

 

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1987, PAGES 61-78. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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