Cleaning Out the Toy Chest

Children quickly outgrow some of their toys and other things with which they play. Soon they are taking up space that could be used for something else. We do not want to see them thrown away, but have a hard time deciding what to do with them. Often, preschool families have a wonderful idea – give them to the church!

Preschool teachers like to accept things new to their room. On the other hand, they must be sure that the toys or equipment meet certain guidelines. North Carolina Baptists have resources for preschool teachers. One of them gives typical guidance on evaluating toys and equipment for their use in the preschool area. See

http://www.ncbaptist.org/fileadmin/ministries/children/resources/2013/pdfs/files/preschool-space-church.pdf

Equipment and Materials Guidelines
Guidelines for Choosing Preschool Equipment and Toys

• Is this toy or piece of equipment age appropriate?
• Can this toy be used in various ways?
• How often will this piece of equipment or toy be used?
• Can this piece of equipment or toy withstand heavy use?
• Does the toy have sharp edges?
• Are there any small pieces that might be broken off and swallowed by a child?
• Is the toy made from non-toxic and nonflammable materials?
• Can the moving parts of the toy pinch or trap a child’s finger?
• Is the toy realistic or is it cartoon/fantasy-based?

In addition to these guidelines, our teachers look for toys that can be cleaned and sanitized for the next child’s use – especially with the babies and toddlers who tend to put things in their mouths. We try to keep everyone healthy and germ free.

If you donate something to the church which would not hold up to heavy use, we may pass it along to another parent with a child just old enough to enjoy the toy.

We appreciate your thinking of the church’s preschoolers. Our preschool suite is used constantly when there are activities at the church, and for our weekday Child Development Center.

August 15, 2014 at 7:13 pm Leave a comment

Starting Out Right

Many area schools, including preschools, have started classes, and others will within the next couple of weeks. Our First Baptist Church, Fort Oglehtorpe, Child Development Center will begin after Labor Day. How can you be sure your child will have a good year?

No doubt you have met at least one of the teachers. Chances are they were meeting with the families of all of their children. While most are good with names, they may not hear much else of what you say. If there is a health issue or other pressing information, write it down to hand to the teacher. If possible, wait for about a week and ask for a conference with the teacher. Use that time to tell the ways your child is special. Ask how you can help your child at home with what they will learn during the year. Give the teacher a way to communicate with you, whether by text message, email, or other media. Thank the teacher for his or her time.

As you talk with the teacher, find out how you may be involved in the school. Some teachers like for families to help with activities they can do at home such as cutting out pieces for games, calendars, etc. Some may want some help with in-class arts and crafts. You may be asked to read with a child. The most important thing is that your child sees you involved with their school.

Be certain that the school is a good fit for your child. There are a variety of different philosophical approaches to providing early childhood education. The National Association for the Education of Young Children offers tips to help you make sure the program you are considering is one of quality. See http://families.naeyc.org/what-to-look-for-in-a-program.

Pray for your child, your child’s teachers, and the school or day care you have chosen. Pay attention to what your child tells you about his or her day. Encourage them to tell about their day in their own words. You will be providing support for your child, as well as helping their oral skills needed for learning to read.

Have a wonderful year!

August 8, 2014 at 12:53 am Leave a comment

Ready for School

There is much emphasis on getting children ready for school in August. The businesses spend a lot of money advertising things they tell you the children need in order to be ready for school. The states are offering tax-free days for us to be able to afford the things the children will need for school. There are some material things the children need for school, but those are not the most critical things they need.

There is a group called “Georgia Early Alliance for Ready Students.” (See http://geears.org/) As their home page states: “The most rapid period of brain development occurs during the first five years of life. In the first few years, 700 new neural connections are formed every second through the interaction of genes and a baby’s environment and experiences. These connections build the foundation upon which all learning, behavior and health depend.”

The children who are most ready for school are those who have had many experiences with various objects and situations. They have been talked with every day and had an opportunity to expand their vocabularies. Adults or older siblings have read them books and talked about the stories. They have been allowed to learn problem-solving strategies and experiment with their own solutions to simple situations. They have had an opportunity to work and play with other children in social situations. They have parents who have encouraged their creativity whether in visual arts or performing arts.

Much research shows the importance of quality early education experiences for children. At First Baptist Church of Fort Oglethorpe, our weekday education program in our Child Development Center provides such experiences. For information, check out the church’s website at http://www.fbcfo.org.

Each Sunday morning, our Preschool Division teachers in Sunday School strive to provide developmentally appropriate experiences that help develop positive neural connections within a biblical context. As children build with blocks, work puzzles, paint pictures, wash babies (dolls), and pretend to cook meals, they are hearing the weekly Bible story and Bible thoughts and verses. The relationships established with other children builds social skills compatible with Christian principles. The interactions with the teachers help them understand that people at church love and care for them.

Getting ready for school takes time and effort. There is no cost involved in coming to Sunday School. We are honored to partner with you in helping your child grow and develop spiritually as well as cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically.

July 31, 2014 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

Look at Me!

“Look at me!” How many times a day does your preschooler say that phrase? For most children, it would be dozens of times each day. They are exploring, creating, using new skills, and working on their individuality when they implore you to give them attention.

As it turns out, our adult reaction to that phrase can impact your child’s learning. An article titled The Importance of the “Look at Me” Moment, by Sari Harrar, tells about research done on this subject. The research was done by Concordia University in Canada. Adults that gave quality attention to the children when they used that phrase had better cooperation of the children when they tried to teach a new skill. The author of the article concluded: “It seems a love of learning – and of working with other people in order to learn — has its roots in what you do when they yell LOOK AT ME!”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/healthy_kids/The-Importance-of-the-Look-at-Me-Moment.html#3RdGXQbWxQQKoZXg.99

Most children crave our attention. Some will take it whether it is good or bad – just so it is our undivided attention. In Preschool Sunday School at First Baptist Church, Ft. Oglethorpe, we have low class sizes so that our adults can give each child the attention he or she needs. We want the children to know that people at church love and care for them. Then the children are more ready to hear from our teachers about Jesus and His love for each of them.

July 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment

Motivating Preschoolers

What motivates you to do things? If your motivation comes from someone telling you that you did a good job, or from extra pay at work, or from the prospect of winning an award, you are depending on extrinsic, or external, motivation. If your motivation comes from a sense of satisfaction from doing your best, from a sense of responsibility, or from knowing you are pleasing God, then you are depending on intrinsic, or internal, motivation.

In Preschool Sunday School at First Baptist Church, Fort Oglethorpe, we use external motivation to provide encouragement to the children until they develop their own internal motivation. For example, some classes sing “It’s clean-up time” when it is time to put away all materials for group time or transition to Extended Teaching Care. Most children soon join in the fun of cleaning up the room with that bit of external motivation. Our goal is for them to come to enjoy simple tasks that help others, becoming internal motivation.

You will find many things in our classrooms. One thing you will not find is a list of children’s names with stickers or check marks beside them. That is a form of external motivation that we do not feel is appropriate for preschoolers in Sunday School. If the charts are for attendance, we know our children cannot drive or walk themselves to Sunday School. A lack of recognition on a chart would be hurtful since they cannot control it. We do not use charts for Bible verse memorization. While we encourage learning the Bible verses or thoughts, most of our children cannot read. They are in the emergent literacy stage of development. They must depend on the adults to help them with their memorization. Some families, for a variety of reasons, cannot help their children each week. Not achieving external recognition, for whatever task, would make the children sad and dislike coming to Sunday School.

Jesus welcomed the children to come to Him. We welcome them to Sunday School where they hear about Him and His love for them. We know they learn best when they are happy, so you will hear happy sounds coming from our rooms. We are laying the foundation for that important internal process that leads to accepting Jesus as their Savior. Each child gets a sticker each Sunday with their name on it, which they wear for security purposes. Come join us this Sunday!

July 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

God Made Wild Animals

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25 NIV

As you vacation this summer, have you planned experiences with wild animals? That probably sounds like an off-beat question. Why would we intentionally plan to interact with wild animals? God has given us the animals for our benefit and enjoyment.

For several years, our family gathered on Jekyll Island, Georgia, one week each summer. When my nephews were small, we decided to participate in a turtle walk. We met at the nature center late one evening just before sundown. The wildlife officer explained what we would be doing as we watched for loggerhead sea turtles to come ashore to lay their eggs. The loggerheads are a protected species and there were things we could not do such as bring a regular flashlight.

After our orientation, we drove to the beach and began walking a deserted section. The moon was beautiful on the waves that night. The sand was soft under our feet. We kept scanning the ocean for signs of a mother loggerhead to come ashore. Finally, the guide said we were out of luck that night and began to go back the way we came. Discouraged, we began going back when someone spotted a turtle coming ashore behind us.

We could not get very near the turtle, but we could tell she struggled to walk. When she reached a certain spot, she began clearing the sand with her front flippers. It was when she started trying to dig with her back flippers that we saw she had been wounded. Her shell was scratched, and one flipper had been damaged. She worked long and hard to finally lay her eggs in the hole she had dug. Loggerheads mature when they are about 35 years old, and lay their eggs back on the beach where they were born. It took the poor turtle a long time to accomplish her task.

As she started back to the ocean, the children were allowed to see her up close and touch her. God has programmed the fledgling turtles, when they hatch, to head toward the light of the ocean. The eggs are food for raccoons and other animals. In order to protect the eggs, we had to move the nest back to the soft sand area. The younger children took turns carrying eggs from her nest to the new one dug in the more protected area. The whole family remembered the eggs, and counted the days until “our” nest eggs would hatch.

We all learned a great deal about an important wild animal. My nephews were ready to take on the shrimping and fishing boats whose propellers probably damaged the mother turtle. They were unsure they wanted any more seafood for a while.

Our decision to go on the turtle walk one night of vacation cost us very little. We brought back family memories that we all treasure. We also gained a greater appreciation of God’s care for even the turtles in the sea. The children understood more about how He planned for us to care for the animals even if it means moving a nest of ping pong ball-sized eggs.

Many beaches are doing similar turtle walks. Do not save it for your last night at the beach. It was very late when we got back to where we were staying, and we appreciated extra sleep the next morning.

July 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

God and Country

“I pwege awegiance to de fwag…” It is so cute when our children first learn to say the Pledge of Allegiance to our country’s flag. They have a hard time with some of the words. They do not understand the concepts behind such words as “republic” and “indivisible.” We try to help them understand the words at a very basic level. When they are older, they will learn more about them and their meanings. For now, they know that they are honoring our country and that is important to their family and friends. They understand that their family is pleased when they finally master saying the pledge.

We encourage our children to learn Bible verses. In Preschool Sunday School, our verses are usually basic enough that the children can easily understand them on their level. They are explained to them, and related to their lives. Even so, as they get older they will be able to think about the verses and realize the greater meanings of them. They will be able to consider the context from which they come. It is up to us, the adults in their world, to be as excited about each verse learned as we are about their learning to say the Pledge of Allegiance. We show them that we feel the Bible verses are important by our actions.

Throughout our country’s history, adults have passed along their love of country to the next generation. They also have passed along important aspects of their religion. At some point in their lives, the children in our country are free to select their own religious affinity or lack thereof. Thank you for helping your children to learn Bible verses. You are laying the foundation for their faith in God and Jesus. When the Holy Spirit speaks to them, they will be ready to listen and respond.

July 4, 2014 at 12:02 am Leave a comment

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