by Jenny Smith on May 09, 2022
June 17, 2022
I felt her little hands tightly grip my neck as we approached the classroom door. I braced for the tears and started to gently loosen her grasp. Then I handed my wailing baby to a veteran caregiver in the nursery, who wrapped her up in her arms without a flinch and with a compassionate smile. Over many months, through olive branches in the forms of Goldfish, songs, stickers, and lots of snuggles, the good-bye cries and screams have subdued to fleeting whimpers.Now my toddler spends much of the week talking about how she loves her sweet teachers.
Over the years, we have watched many mommies and daddies manage the same distressing drop-off as they start the process of their babies growing to trust and feel safe with the nursery staff. And that is exactly what our goal is here in the nursery and early childhood classrooms: although we may be knee-deep in diapers and wipes, pacifiers and lovies, through the gentle care of loving nursery staff our little ones are learning their church is a safe place. They see that they are cared for and feel safe; the church is full of people they can trust. A four-year old plays a silly game of blowing pencils across the table and discovers the church is full of people they can have fun with. As they dance and sing along with their peers during Ms. Barb’s music time, they feel they are a part of a community and begin to learn about corporate worship. Yes, even at this young, sweet age they are learning to love the church!
Safety and trust is integral to children as they develop and grow in the church. Feeling safe and trusting the grown-ups and the environment around them is necessary for them to be engaged in Sunday school and learn what the Bible tells them about God.
That tug in our heart we feel as parents as we drop off our children is growing trust inside us as well! Leaving our little ones with others whom we trust so we can spend a couple hours having our cups filled in church and Sunday school requires us to feel the same safety our children learn to feel. In turn, it spurs us to love our church community even more.
With this foundation of love, trust, and security, the groundwork is being laid for our children to be able to engage with church teachings and to grow into adults who will continue to love their church. Through songs like “Stand Up and Sing Hallelujah!”, our kids start to participate in Christ-exalting worship. By making cards and cleaning up their classrooms, they learn about sacrificial service. Rhyming, memorized prayers teach them how to talk to the Lord, and the preschooler’s scripture memory is the beginning of a lifelong skill. Whether you have have young ones of your own or teach the kids of others, how blessed are we to show them these most important things? The snuggles and sweet smiles are a nice bonus, too.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6