Managing all the variables in preschool ministry can be challenging. To anticipate and resolve most issues, focus on these three items: know your children, foster an inviting environment, and establish clear expectations.
God made each child in your class uniquely for His glory. Therefore, expect variety rather than uniformity. Every teacher’s timeless challenge is to discover how to bring out the best in every child. It is rarely easy, but very rewarding.
By the time children complete their fifth year, 85% of their essential personalities have been formed. Encourage your teaching team to take time to learn about each child individually. Only by truly knowing your children can you begin to effectively meet their needs and contribute positively to spiritual development during these formative years.
Provide an environment that draws your children into the learning process. Be intentional about creating a warm atmosphere that piques their desire to be Jesus’ friends and to trust His Word. This is accomplished best in a structured and well-managed classroom.
Establish standards and procedures to ensure that your children are always safe from physical harm. Communicate your policies and expectations to parents, and as appropriate, to your children. They need to know the rules.
Your roster undoubtedly has children who are more difficult to lead than others. Preschoolers who don’t receive attention for positive behavior often resort to negative behavior—just so you will notice them. Therefore, affirm your children regularly!
State simple rules and explain them beforehand so the children can easily understand and are likely to comply. When a child purposefully breaks a rule, address the situation with appropriate consequences. Extend firm, even-tempered discipline. Then redirect his or her attention back to the lesson.
Be consistent and impartial. When discipline is necessary, be sure the child understands what he or she has done that warrants correction. Always follow through with direct consequences; resolve each situation exactly as you said you would. This will help to minimize potential problems later on.
Addressing Behavior Problems
For persistent discipline issues, try these three steps:
1) Ask that the behavior stop.
2) Seat the child beside a teacher, give him or her a brief “time-out,” or choose another appropriate consequence.
3) Involve the child’s parents for additional support.
Carry out these steps lovingly and firmly. Always comfort and encourage preschoolers after they have been disciplined. Let them know that God also corrects his children because He loves them and wants the very best for them (Hebrews 12:5-11).