Friday, March 2, 2012

Recruiting and Training Preschool Leaders and Helpers

The adult leaders and helpers have some of the most important roles in starting and running your preschool program. They are the ones who will provide the very early church experiences for your preschoolers and will act as guides to help the children explore Bible truths.

"You may feel that because you are teaching twos and threes, you don't need much wisdom or spiritual discernment," says Mary A. Barbour in her book You Can Teach 2s & 3s. "But you soon discover you need a great deal, for you are working with children while they are at their most impressionable level of development.

"Your responsibilities are great to keep yourself growing in Christian virtues and to know the Saviour better day by day. This you may do with an open Bible, an open heart, and an open line of communication with the Lord through frequent, earnest prayer. And the more you grow as a Christian, the better teacher you will be."*

To ensure your preschoolers the very best experiences in your program, look for leaders and teachers with the following qualifications:
  • Are dedicated Christians who seek to live for Christ daily, who study God's Word, and who know the plan of salvation
  • Are tuned in to kids, and able to build upon their natural interests
  • Enjoy sharing in the children's joy of discovery
  • Are warm, outgoing, and have a genuine love and sensitivity for children
  • Have a basic understanding of children in terms of their physical, mental, and emotional development, and their spiritual needs
  • Are reliable and disciplined to prepare for each meeting
  • Are suitable role models for children

How to Recruit Preschool Leaders

Prayerfully and with a lot of help! This is a big job, so meet with your Christian education director, children's pastor, or Sunday school superintendent. Begin with prayer, asking the Lord to direct you to the people whom He wants to teach your precious preschoolers. Ask Him to prepare the hearts of these people to be receptive to becoming preschool leaders or helpers.

Then make a list of qualified people who might be interested, and make an appointment to visit them in their homes. Explain the preschool program and the responsibilities of a preschool leader or helper. Ask him or her to pray about the decision, and if desired, leave a specific job description with him or her.

It is good to involve a variety of people in working with your preschool program: fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, college students, or adults with older children may all enjoy working with twos and threes. Make a concerted effort to get men involved in the program—particularly fathers of twos and threes. They will love it, and so will the kids. A man in the classroom often helps to reduce discipline problems, too.

Organize a list of "substitute" teachers from which to draw when a regular leader or helper is unable to attend. Be sure to fill each vacancy as soon as possible.

There are most likely people in your church who aren't available on a weekly basis or just don't want to be tied to a schedule, but do like to help when presented with a special need, such as VBS. These are the people who can help you by preparing handcraft materials, cutting out visuals, or making or providing snacks. Senior citizens and singles are particularly receptive to this idea. Show your appreciation for their help, just as you show your appreciation to your regular leaders and helpers.

The leaders are the most important part of your preschool program—not because they do everything themselves, but because they are the only means through which children can be truly involved and discipled. The most successful preschool group is usually the one where the adult leaders do less so the children can do more. This is the toughest kind of leadership, but it's the kind that produces disciples and leaders in your students.

*Mary A. Barbour, You Can Teach 2s & 3s (Wheaton, IL: Victor books, 1987), 33.

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