In “Playing for Keeps”, we learn that Words over Time impact someone’s direction in life. Consistent positive words lead in a positive direction in the same way consistent negative words lead in a negative direction. Our preschoolers have a long way to go in life and are in need of a lot of direction. Your words matter. Here are the three practical ways you can optimize your words to have the most impact on your little ones.

Learn a New Language:

When in preschool, do as the preschoolers do. (Okay, maybe not everything they do.) Speak as a preschooler speaks. Or at least in a language they can understand. Words and phrases, particularly as you are building this foundation of faith and wonder in God, have to make sense to them. To tell a 4 year old that “God is my rock!” may trigger concerns as they walk through the yard, that they may have just stepped on God. Preschoolers are very literal. Take time to explain: God is not a real rock, but He is like a rock. Sometimes the cliches of faith find their way into our conversations. Take the time to sit down with a piece of paper (or a new word doc) and make a list of the concepts of faith you want your preschoolers to learn. Then make a list of the words that will best convey those… to a preschooler. Next, make a point to use those words, repeatedly in your time with your few. Don’t leave it to chance. Speak preschool.

Weigh What You Say:

Preschoolers learn boundaries every day. One of their very first words is often “NO” because they have been told no so, many, many times. Your time with your few is short and needs to have as few no’s and as many yes’s as possible. Yes, there are those who have no boundaries at home, who are completely out of line and who wreak havoc if given the slightest opportunity. You can’t change that behavior in 90 minutes. So use your words to build, to encourage, to find the good and point it out. Those children may rarely hear encouragement in their day-to-day life. Be the bright spot in their week. Focus on the good as much as possible. They will begin to see that  while the world may label them as troublemakers, in God’s eyes, they are super-heroes.

Recycle Big Ideas:

If your curriculum has a monthly theme, a catchy phrase or a slogan, use it and use it often. Tell your parents about it and encourage them to use it as well. Together, you can make a groove in your preschoolers’ brains with that phrase. They won’t forget it. Don’t believe me? How many nursery rhymes do you remember? These are the years in your preschoolers’ lives that lasting memories are being made. If you don’t have catchy phrases in your curriculum or classrom, make some up. Think of 3-5 main concepts of faith you want your preschoolers to believe. Then take those concepts and make a short, catchy phrase for each one. Repeat one each week for a month. For the next month, choose a new phrase, but occasionally, go back and review the old ones. These phrases will become part of your preschoolers’ foundation of faith.

Pay attention to what you say. Because when you consistently repeat the right words, in the right language, over time, you are pointing your few in a very positive direction.

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Barbara Graves

Barbara loves God, children's ministry, coffee, the Braves, and her granddaughter Eden-Grace. She's been in ministry for over 30 years and wishes she didn't have to sleep so she could write, teach, and read a little more.

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