I find it interesting what some volunteers believe to be the most important thing that happens in their rooms. Now they wouldn’t tell me this but watching them you would think the things at the top of the importance list are:
• Don’t run
• Be quiet
• Stay in line
• Don’t play when it is craft time
• Don’t talk when I’m recapping the Bible story from large group
• Don’t color Jesus with a red marker
Strangely enough those rooms do not look fun and I doubt that most of those kids want to come back.
I grew up in church and I specifically remember this one “teacher” who had the most un-fun class. I dreaded going each week. I was not even allowed to come into the room until I perfectly recited the memory verse. I’m sure her intentions were great but the delivery was missing the target by a mile. She thought the best environment in which to reach children was a perfectly orderly classroom where no one spoke out of turn or giggled.
Looking back, I now see how this may not have been the best theory to have in preschool ministry.
Think about that one teacher in your life that stood out. It could have been at church, school or even a coach. Most all of us have one in mind. I guarantee you that it had nothing to do with what you were learning or how well the class was run. It wasn’t the rules. IT WAS THE RELATIONSHIP!
Your goal is to get to know the kids. Here are some things that I think are essential for that:
• Be consistent. A vacation or week off here and there isn’t a problem, but you need to be consistent enough that they know your name.
• Get to know their names. This goes over well with them and shows the parents that their kids are important to you. (We put name tags on each child’s back. So you will often catch me sneaking a peak over the shoulder of a newer kid.)
• Leave the adult at the door. Be a kid. Have fun. Goof around with your few.
• Let kids be kids (while keeping anyone from getting assaulted). No doubt you have to have some rules, but perfect structure cannot be obtained in one hour with preschoolers who are actually enjoying themselves.
• Do all the activities with them. Color with them. Sit in large group with them. Get on your knees to worship with them. Answer the questions from the Bible Story Teller with them. Play with them!
Gaining influence in someone’s life is about the relationship you build over time. It’s about the fun you have and the memories you create together.
What are the things that you do to build that fun in your room so the kids want to come back?