This morning I walked back into the building where I spent 20 years of my life…teaching little ones about the world around them and the God who made it all, teaching them to sing praises to God and delight in the movement of their bodies. I retired 5 years ago, and I think I have thought of the children and my fellow teachers almost every day since then. Today, I took my youngest grandson in for the first time.
See, this is a magical place. It is a school where the child is wrapped up in a warm blanket of love and care and direction. There are rules and consequences, as there should always be. But everything here is filtered through God’s plan for teaching and growing little ones into men and women who will one day serve Him. The director leads the rest of the teachers with an attitude of kindness and gentleness….firmness and fairness. And all the teachers follow her lead. Every child is guided to a place of understanding with kind hugs and sweet smiles from their teachers. And, to be real…sometimes this includes sitting in time out or by the fence at recess. And, perhaps even a call to parents. What else would you expect from a lively, excited group of 3, 4, and 5 year olds? And, don’t we all need to be guided back into line at times when we decide to ‘go our own way’?
There is music…which was my area way back when. Now songs and marching and dancing and games are taught by a wonderful teacher who makes me so proud. There are chapel lessons each Friday where the whole school comes together to sing and learn Bible stories.
My sweet Levi went for his first day of Preschool last week. His Mom and Dad took him. I didn’t go. Except in my heart. This was a time for them…and I knew my time would come soon. I wanted to watch that baby strut into his classroom and find his place by his name at the table. I knew there would most likely be a few tears…not from Levi, but from Suzanne! And, there were. But, Levi never looked back. We, his extended family, are so proud of the way in which he meets people and new things…life, really… head on. And, most always with a smile from ear to ear. He’s ready to explore and grow and learn. And, our hearts are overjoyed that God has seen fit for First Presbyterian Preschool to be that place. Now he does have a few things to learn about the sharing bit and pushing folks out of the way if they are standing in a place he feels is meant for him….but that will come. He’s three. He’s a little boy. He has much to learn.
(That’s him in the hat!)
I think when God said that we are to “train a child in the way he should go” He means much more than just teaching. I think it applies to where he spends his time. I think it applies to what he watches on TV and movies. I think it applies to what books are made available for him. I think it applies to what games he plays on a tablet. I think it means we are to keep him in an environment that is filled with those things that we hold dear….those things that God told us were the right ways to live. If our young children are not spending time in those places and with those people who believe the same way…it is because it is not important to us. Or that we are lazy. Because it just takes a little effort to do. As Christian parents and grandparents, this is our command from God.
I know it is much harder to control that as children grow. I raised three boys who were not always where I wanted them to be, nor doing what I wanted them to do. But, there also comes that time when they must make their own decisions, and follow their own hearts. And, they, then, must live with the consequences of those decisions.
Preschool education is all about laying a foundation… especially in teaching a child about God, His wonders, His world, His rules. Knowing that people are happy when they tell stories from the Bible teaches that the Bible is a ‘good book’. Learning thoughts from God’s Word lends a familiarity that will be remembered when they are old enough to read the Bible for themselves. Singing songs about God and Jesus and the natural world all add layer upon layer of information upon which will eventually lead a child to be comfortable enough to always want to know more. These things have a way of being ‘hidden in their hearts’ and pulled to the surface when they are needed. (Has that ever happened to you? Something traumatic or stressful happens and immediately a Bible verse or a hymn or Christian song will pop into your mind? It happens to me quite a lot. I may not can quote chapter and verse, but I know what it says!)
It behooves us, therefore, to make their foundations solid. To filter all they see and do. And, when they do stumble upon something that we don’t think is appropriate (and it WILL happen) we must have an explanation to satisfy them as to why it is not acceptable.
Well, this was not supposed to turn into a sermon. But, sometimes words and thoughts come as I am writing and I feel compelled to share. So, please forgive the ‘preachy parts.” That does not mean I don’t fully believe every word I just wrote. I do.
It is just a blessing and a wonderful, sweet gift from God that my youngest grandson gets to experience all the goodness that is overflowing in his preschool.
(And, yes, that is my favorite outfit he has that he is wearing! I bought it for him in the spring, and sweet Suzanne let him wear it today just for me!)