For the past few months our preschool environment has been experiencing a HUGE growth spurt, which is AMAZING and we are so blessed by it. However, there have been some Sundays that I have walked away feeling discouraged as a leader. I felt like in some ways we were moving from being a great small group environment to “childcare” at a quick speed, and I NEVER just want to be “childcare” for kids on a Sunday morning. So I had to sit down and really reevaluate what we were doing and what we could do differently.

Our biggest growth is in our 2 year old room, where we went from 8 kids to 18 in about 3 weeks. With that dramatic increase, I decided that I was going to serve in that classroom the following Sunday to experience it myself first hand, and figure out what we could do to make it better.

Well, let me tell you! 18 2yr. olds are HARD even with 7 SGL’s! I think you automatically go into SURVIVAL mode! Holy cow. 5 were crying, 2 were hitting each other (because they are 2 and don’t know how to share), 1 is trying to eat a crayon, and 3 of them need to go potty (and it’s down the hall). As we are taking those 3 potty, another tries to run out the door! Did I mention that this is all in the first 10 minutes!? How long is service?? So, we were trying to gather all of them around with the intent to engage them in the curriculum that I edited and had prepped for THIS class. Ummm, let me just say playing with rubber fish in WATER is NOT something I would recommend with that age group! Maybe using blue streamers in the bucket would have been a better “water” choice. We tried something else. We glued the fish and bread to the basket, or not! Glue in the mouth, markers on our face, kids trying to eat the “fish”, not fun either. Thank goodness it was now story time!

Well, needless to say I came out of that class exhausted, but learned a ton and was reminded of a few things:

~ I was picking curriculum that was just unrealistic for that age group and was not setting my SGL’s up for a win.

~The difference between 2 and 2 ½ is HUGE, developmentally they change so much in that year.

~ Simple is better and repetitive is best.

~ There is a HUGE difference in what looks like a great lesson on “paper,” to how it actually works in a class.

Since, that Sunday we have made a few changes (with more are to come):

~ I was able to split our class and we now have a young 2’s, and an older 2’s.

~ I’m editing the curriculum for the younger 2’s with a completely different lens.

Just by making these few changes, our small group leaders are not as overwhelmed and the kids are more engaged because what we are doing is more appropriate.

As a leader, you always need to be evaluating your environment! Just because it worked 6 months ago doesn’t mean it’s going to work now! As a SGL, you need to be letting your leader know how it’s going! Growth can cause change and that can be a good thing!

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Jenny Zimmer

Jenny is a California native and Preschool and Family Life Director at Discovery Church in Simi Valley, CA. For over ten years she has been doing ministry work. Working with young children is her passion, which is why she is also a part-time preschool teacher. Having two older children of her own, Paige and McKenzie, Jenny recognizes the significance of spending time with children. At the same time she knows the value of family which is why when she is not working you can find her with her husband Jim, daughters, and dogs enjoying the California atmosphere.

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