When you think of your nursery and preschool classrooms and the
resources you'd like to have, what do you think of? If I had an
unlimited budget and the space for the perfect classroom, I know
there are some awesome resources I'd love to offer children, but
our budget doesn't allow for those things. So what resources are
the essential elements for a truly effective ministry on a
Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers have certain needs, and
those needs help us determine what's truly essential in these
ministries. The top areas you need to consider for your classroom
are safety, classroom aids, teaching aids, and visual aids.
Let's assume your ministry leader has already instituted safe
screening of you and any other volunteers in your classroom. That's
the first step of safety but a bit beyond your control as a
classroom teacher. The second safety essential is that there's some
kind of check-in/checkout procedure when children arrive and leave.
To learn more about each of these areas, go to www.cmmag.com. After
those two primary issues, there are key areas you can work on to
ensure safety for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Germ Warfare -- Safety is a concern in nursery
and preschool classes in the areas of illness and the passing of
germs around the class. While we can't guarantee our nurseries and
preschool classes are completely germ-free, we can cut down on the
spread of colds and the flu by implementing a sick-child policy.
You'll need to determine with your team what your policy looks
like. Many churches request that parents not bring their child to
class if the child is running a temperature.
Whatever your policy looks like, kindly and firmly communicate
this to parents to ensure good health for all children.
Another key step is to thoroughly clean toys each week. Consider
purchasing colorful laundry baskets for each service in your
nursery and preschool classes. Divide your toys between the baskets
and then bring out one basket per service. At the end of the
service, have your volunteers put all the toys that've been played
with in an empty basket and bring out a fresh basket of clean toys
for the next service. During the week all the toys can be soaked in
a disinfectant, rinsed, and returned to baskets for the next week's
services. Cleaning of the toys each week is a great service project
for older children. This allows you to be sure your toys are clean,
plus as you clean them each week you'll be able to keep an eye out
for broken toys; small, loose parts; or otherwise-unsafe toys that
need to be tossed.
Controlled Exits -- Providing a safe ministry
for our little ones involves making sure doors to classrooms can't
be opened by little hands, thus keeping kids from slipping out of
the classroom. It isn't difficult or expensive to put up safety
gates. You can also use knob covers so little ones can't open
doors. Classroom Aids Preschool classrooms are spaces for children
to learn and also spaces for them to play. Create an environment
that your children -- and their parents -- will love.
Stink Be Gone -- There's nothing worse than the
smell of dirty diapers emanating from the nursery. So to improve
your nursery's aroma, get a Diaper Genie. This wonderful item
allows you to seal dirty diapers in plastic as soon as you remove
them from the babies, helping your nurseries smell much better and
keeping dirty diapers away from crawling and walking babies.
Rock-a-Bye Baby -- Nurseries also need chairs
for staff to hold, rock, and cuddle babies, but avoid rocking
chairs as they cause injuries to babies every year. Instead, place
glider rockers in your nursery.
Just My Size -- Little Tikes makes wonderful,
colorful, perfectly sized picnic tables that make great additions
to nurseries. These tables are perfect for snack time and provide a
wonderful space for little ones to color. Since they're plastic,
they're easy to clean. And that's another valuable feature!
As They Grow -- As our children grow, classroom
furniture needs to change. Preschool classes need child-sized
tables and chairs so kids are able to make their crafts. Rather
than have children sit in chairs for their Bible lessons, consider
placing colorful carpet squares in the story area or check out fun
colorful parachutes. These can be spread on the floor for story
time, and provide a special space for children to learn.
Play Time -- Check out Playhut products for
excellent play items to add excitement to your classroom. The
school bus, connecting tunnels, and play houses allow you to make
the space you have a truly inviting place for children to learn
about God. Teaching Aids Clearly, caring for babies is one of the
primary roles of our nursery ministries, but we can also begin to
talk with our littlest ones about how much Jesus loves them and how
he made them so very special.
Plugged In -- Place a CD or cassette player in
your nursery to play soft music with simple lyrics you can sing to
the babies as you hold and play with them. A DVD player or VCR and
a television can also be a useful resource. Consider developing a
library of movies you can use to help children learn.
Booking It -- The simple act of holding a child
and reading is one that not only helps a child learn, but also
communicates that the church nursery is a safe and comforting place
for a young child to be.
Chalkboard Wall -- As preschool children are
growing and learning so fast, there are some unique, inexpensive
options available to truly engage your Threes, Fours, and Fives.
Consider painting a specific wall in your classroom with chalkboard
paint. Paint your chalkboard at a preschooler's height so kids can
draw with colored chalk and use their imaginations. Or ask them to
draw specific things that connect with the lesson you're teaching
for the day. Paint another wall with magnetic paint. Kids can make
magnets or you can add magnetic strips to old flannelgraph figures
for storytelling and independent play.
Artists at Work -- Toddlers are emerg ing
artists, and preschoolers see themselves as genuine Picassos. As a
result, craft items should provide safe exploration of multiple
media, and the end product should be open-ended -- that is, no
"model" project to reproduce. Include the basics such as
construction paper, glue sticks, safety scissors, chenille wire,
pom poms, and crayons. Stack the construction paper by color in
letter stackers from an office supply store.
The Good Word -- Use a quality children's Bible
that children can understand. Look for simple wording and great