There is a __________ for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:8 NIV)
If you remember that verse and fill in the blank correctly, you know a list follows that names some of the activities. It talks about things we depend on happening in a certain order.
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the _________s or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7 NIV)
On the other hand, some things are uncertain. We do not know when they will happen. We get frustrated because we ask God when something will happen that we think would be good, and He does not answer immediately.
Now, think about our preschoolers. The concept of time is abstract and hard for them to understand. The progression of preschoolers toward understanding time is given in “Ages & Stages: How Children Develop a Sense of Time” by Carla Poole, Susan A. Miller, EdD, and Ellen Booth Church. (See http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/ages-stages-how-children-develop-sense-time) This article gives some practical suggestions to help your child along the way.
Some behavior issues in children may be related to their lack of time perception. Chris Chatham, in “Lacking More Than Foresight: Do Children Even Comprehend Time?” says that children do not perceive time the same way as adults. (See http://scienceblogs.com/developingintelligence/2007/04/19/predicting-the-future-do-child/)
Seefeldt and Wasik, in the article “Cognitive Development in Preschoolers,” talk about the development of symbolic thought in three- and four-year olds. Included in their discussion is the development of the sense of time. (See http://www.education.com/reference/article/cognitive-development-preschoolers/)
God’s perception of time is entirely different than ours. He is very patient with us. Likewise, we must be patient with our preschoolers as they grow in their understanding of time and related behaviors. When we cannot fill in the blanks with a specific time, we can rest in the fact that God has His perfect timeline for us.
Weather conditions are mentioned many times in the Bible. Since the garden of Eden, it is likely that people have been interested in knowing about the weather. In Matthew 26, Jesus talked about knowledge of sky conditions and their relationship to weather. Today, we have a cable TV channel devoted to interpreting radar images for weather predictions. Local and national media employ meteorologists to predict and interpret weather.
Is your family prepared for emergency conditions, weather or otherwise? If you live in Georgia, you may go to www.ready.ga.gov for information on preparation, planning, and staying informed. Last week’s snowstorm, earthquake in neighboring South Carolina, and icing around Atlanta and Augusta point out that our area is not immune to dealing with emergencies. The Ready Georgia site assists you with preparing a ready kit, making a family plan, and staying informed. Georgia has all of this information in app form. The app is free and available in the online stores. If you live in Tennessee, your website is www.tnema.org/ReadyTn/. Tennessee has a mobile app, and suggestions on preparedness for you and your family.
Locally, both Catoosa County and Walker County have emergency notification systems. If you go to the county’s website, you will find directions on how to register to receive important information. You may choose your method(s) of notification: telephone, email, and/or text message. In case of any kind of warning, you get notification as quickly as possible. Do you remember the tornadoes of a couple of years ago? Did your family have a planned place to ride out the storm? These applications will help you make plans now for the next emergency.
While we have prognosticators for the environmental storms of life, predicting life’s other storms is more difficult. We know that each of us will experience emergencies and devastating storms along the way. Many of our families have seen the loss of beloved members over the past month. What can we do to survive the inevitable life storms? It is, in my opinion, much like getting ready for environmental storms. We should prepare. The best preparation for a Christian is Bible study, prayer, association with a local church, and exercising our faith with others. We need to plan. We intentionally plan to pass along our faith to our children within our family, our church family, our community, and around the world. We plan ways to stay connected with God. Finally, we stay informed. Communicating with other believers is important. Looking around us to see what is happening is important. We must stay informed. After all, we are getting ready for the most awesome event the world will ever know. Be ready!
On February 10, 2014, there were two articles in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that caught my eye. The first was titled, “75% of children consume caffeine.” (page A8) The government had used national health surveys from 1999 through 2010 to reach their conclusion. The last paragraph talked specifically about preschoolers. While they found that most preschoolers consumed caffeine, the study showed that their overall intake fell during the decade. That is good news.
The second article was titled, “Georgia schools junking junk food.” (page B3). This is because of enforcement of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It limits the types of drinks sold on school campuses during the day whether through vending machines or fund-raising activities. There are nutrition requirements on foods sold, too. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2014.
How can you be sure you are offering good foods that would match the requirements that schools and many day cares will use? There is a new mini-poster located at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers.html to help us. It is called “Healthy Eating for Preschoolers.” There is a daily food plan that has food group suggestions broken down by 2s, 3s, and 4s and 5s. If your child’s pediatrician has put them on a special diet, use the doctor’s advice instead of anything on the website.
One of our traditional preschool stories is usually titled Daniel Ate Good Food. During Sunday School, we share with the children how Daniel ate healthy foods that pleased God. The teachers encourage the children to choose good foods. The preschool years are the time when eating habits for a lifetime can be made. We can help them learn to make good choices.
The History.com web site has “Valentine’s Day by the Numbers.” According to their research, 62% of adults in the United States celebrate the special day. In the week before Valentine’s Day, we spend 440 million dollars on candy. Then there are the cards, the flowers, and other gifts we exchange.
Valentine’s Day had its origins in the third century when Claudius II is said to have banned the young people from marrying due to the effect it had on young men as soldiers. He thought they would not fight as well if they were worried about wives and families they might leave behind. From some reports, one priest defied the ban and encouraged young people to participate in Christian marriages, which he officiated. For his efforts, Valentine was executed on February 14 by being clubbed, then stoned, and finally beheaded. That is not a very romantic start to our celebration centuries later.
How is the best way to deal with Valentine’s Day for preschoolers? It is a wonderful day to remind them about love. There is much meaning in what we consider to be a children’s song: “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Enjoy singing the song with your preschooler. Make a valentine card for Jesus. There are many verses in the Bible that tell about love. Probably the most well-known one is John 3:16. You will want to use as much of the verse as your child is able to understand.
In child care, Pre-K, or Kindergarten, your child may be expected to exchange Valentine cards with others. As you work on them together, talk about being kind to other people. We show our love to people by being kind to them. They may get a different message about “love” from the media. God tells us to love one another, and be kind. Explore some ways to be kind to other people at “school,” at home, at church, and at other places.
Be sure to tell your child “I love you.” So many times we have to say “no” to the children. They are exploring everything, putting everything in their mouths, enjoying the freedom to walk then run, etc. For their safety, we must give guidelines which often include saying “no” and “don’t.” For each negative thing you must say, trying to give at least two positive things. Remind them, for example, “I love you and don’t want you to get hurt.”
Did you know the people at church love your child? Our Sunday School teachers give their time each week to be with the children instead of in their adult classes. They work to prepare activities to teach the Bible stories, and look for ways to tell the stories so your child understands. They do it out of love for God, and for the children. The same is true for our Extended Session volunteers.
You show your love for the preschoolers in your life in many ways. Your every word and action is imprinted in their memory. They love you and want to be just like you. You cannot be an effective parent alone. God loves you, too, and gave the greatest valentine the world has ever known – Jesus. As a believer in Jesus, you have the assistance of the Holy Spirit as you parent the little lives He has entrusted in your care. Just ask and you will receive the wisdom you need for being a living valentine for your children.
For the remainder of January and all of February, our preschoolers at First Baptist Church, Fort Oglethorpe, will continue with a study of real-life questions. Our questions include: Who Is God? (Exodus 12 – 14), Why Should I Tell About Jesus? (Luke 3, Mark 1, and John 1), Who Gave Us the Bible? (Jeremiah 36), Who Made the World? (Genesis 1), and What Is Sin? (Genesis 2 and 3).
Our focal verses include: “There is no other God.” (Isaiah 45:22), and “I will do what God says.” (Psalm 119:34)
Is your preschooler at the age that they are asking hard questions? Their “Why?” questions at two years of age can lead to really difficult questions to answer as they get older. It is important to answer their questions, but at a level they can understand. Always clarify what they are asking. It may be much simpler than you first think to answer them. If they are asking the time, do not tell them how to make a clock. There will be time for that later.
The preschool years are those when the most learning happens. Naturally, they will ask questions with a spiritual basis. Remember that they are literal people. If you tell them that Jesus is in your heart, they will think he is literally inside your heart like a miniature man on TV or the movies. Give them honest information, but in words they will understand.
Make sure they understand what you are saying. In a recent Sunday School lesson, the children learned that Peter told about Jesus. Later, when the teacher asked one child who told about Jesus, she answered “Peter Pan!” You may think you have communicated effectively, but the child may have interpreted it entirely differently. Asking them to tell you what you said gives you a chance to see if they truly understood.
Do you have adult-sized, real-life questions? Are you searching for answers beyond a search engine’s capability to provide? Share your questions with one of the church’s ministers or a Sunday School teacher. They may not have the answers but they can give you suggestions about how to find them. No honest questions are foolish. When we are searching for answers for adult-sized real-life questions, we are learning just as the preschoolers do.
According to the local meteorologists, we are due for even more sub-freezing weather. It is far too cold to be outside for even a short time. It seems like all of January has been this way. Are you getting cabin fever? What can you do to entertain an energetic preschooler?
Our preschoolers love to help! Find activities for them where they are actually helping out around the house. Let them help match socks when they come from the dryer. Show them how to fold wash cloths. Show them how to dust the tables. Have fun doing work with them.
Enjoy an extra time reading together. Check out some books from the library to read. Read old favorites again. Role play parts from the books. Be sure to include Bible stories and Bible story books in your reading. Add sound effects to the stories. Read some predictable response books. Let them say the repetitious parts with you
Make your own book. Staple or tape a few pages of paper together. Ask the child to tell you a story. For younger preschoolers, write the words on the pages. Older children may want to add their own. Encourage them to draw pictures on the pages to illustrate the story. Never ask them, “What is this?” Instead, say, “Tell me about this.”
Don’t forget the kitchen, Setting the table is really teaching the mathematical concept of one-to-one correspondence. Let them put out the napkins, the spoons, etc. Be careful of breakable things. Involve them in preparing simple recipes. They love to pretend to cook in preschool, so they will love stirring things and helping out. Teach them that stoves are hot, and microwave. ovens can burn, too.
Play games with your preschooler. If you tire of their regular games, set up a couple of chairs with a blanket over them. Arm yourself with a flashlight, turn out the room lights, and have fun “camping out” inside. Preschoolers love playing with flashlights and making tents. Think of games you played as a child. Enjoy having play time. If all else fails, call a grandparent. They love hearing from the children and talking with them.
Remember, we have activities for preschoolers on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evenings. They will help beat cabin fever!
This week’s Bible story comes from Mark 10:46-52. Bartimaeus was a blind man in Jericho who begged money in the street. As Jesus passed through the city, Bartimaeus started yelling to get His attention. He had heard about Jesus. People in the crowd tried to hush Bartimaeus. He would not be hushed, and continued until Jesus called for him. He asked him what he wanted. Bartimaeus asked Jesus to make him see again. Jesus healed Bartimaeus.
If you research the story a bit, you will find many messages for adults. For example, there are differences in the Aramaic and Greek meanings of the name Bartimaeus. Jesus broke down cultural barriers around disabled people by taking time to respond to Bartimaeus.
As I read the story again, I thought about our preschoolers who are constantly calling for our attention. Sometimes they do this verbally: “Look at me! See what I can do.” Some use their actions to get our attention. When a younger sibling comes into the family, some preschoolers feel attention deprived and act out. Some children need a lot of attention and will get it through good behavior or bad behavior if they are ignored.
Each child needs attention. As Jesus took time to stop and interact with Bartimaeus, we should take time to stop and interact with our preschoolers. Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do?” We can encourage our little ones to use their own words to tell us what they would like for us to do. We may not always be able to accommodate them, but they will know we listened to them and gave them attention.
As Jesus was patient with Bartimaeus, we should pray for strength to be patient with children.