How young is too young to start teaching children about God? When can children understand the Gospel message? Can a child be saved as a preschooler? Do you have these questions or have you had these questions asked of you? Did you have an answer? Were you confident in the answers you gave…did you provide Biblical wisdom and guidance?
Many parents will ask these questions and look to you…the children's ministry leader or Sunday school teacher…for the answers. During the early years you can help parents lay a spiritual foundation by being sensitive to the way children develop and learn. As children’s ministry leaders, you should familiarize yourself with the developmental characteristics of children…what and how they learn at different age levels…so that you can offer parents sound direction and guidance. As a result, you will be teaming with parents and providing children with the appropriate guidance and activities so that they will be able to comprehend and learn about God in age appropriate ways.
Children of all ages should be given the opportunity to know, love, and live for Jesus. Therefore, don’t overlook the importance of the spiritual development in children during their early years of life. These years are foundational years and should be viewed as the most important time to teach children truth. During the early years most children will absorb what you teach them and develop their overall direction and characteristics of life. They form personality traits that will prepare them for Biblical truth and the ability to love God. Children will grasp information that is age appropriate according to their mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs as they develop and grow. Therefore, teaching God’s Word according to the age level of a child is necessary and vital…and cannot start too early.
Did you know that infants need security and love? When a child experiences a strong bond of security and love at an early age, they are more likely to accept God as loving and caring…one who is there for them and who will take care of their every need. How a baby is nurtured and loved will increase their ability to perceive God’s love in the future.
Did you know that two and three year olds need repetition, sensory activities, visual stimulation, movement, and less structured activities? When two and three year olds interact in an age appropriate environment through these methods of stimulation, they are more likely to grasp the understanding that God made the world, He made them, and He loves them. Providing opportunities for children to interact with objects, books, and activities that use and stimulate their senses will encourage and promote learning and spiritual understanding of God.
Did you know that four and five year olds need sensory activities, real story understanding, skill builders, social interaction, movement, exploration by experience and doing, small teacher and learner ratios, and expressions of worship. Four and five year olds need to be given more freedom to express themselves in a safe environment. Due to their short attention spans, teacher directed activities should be short and designed to stimulate interaction that will encourage the learner to seek truth and find answers about God, His love, and His desire to interact with them through worship and prayer.
Did you know that Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) All children are significant in God’s eyes and all can learn spiritual things and the Biblical truth. Reach and teach children in the early years, so that the Biblical foundations are established and continue to build on that foundation as a child grows and matures in their faith. The early years of a child’s spiritual journey is important and should never be neglected. Stay focused on the goal and do not neglect the babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. They are part of God’s kingdom…and our next Christian generation.