By Wayne Stocks
I love preschoolers. They’re just a whole lot of fun, and they provide a mostly blank canvas. I love their energy. I love their excitement. I love their thirst and hunger for knowledge. I love their innocent view of the world.
Spend the morning with a room full of preschoolers, and you will get a much better understanding why Jesus told His followers they needed faith like a child.
I have a great deal of respect for those who volunteer in preschool ministry. The kids are younger, but their goal is the same as anyone else in children’s ministry. Build a relationship with the child that will allow you to speak God into their lives.
With that goal in mind, here are 10 simple things you can do to bond with a preschooler and start building a relationship with them.
1. Listen to them.
Many adults discount the things a preschooler has to say and assume that most of it is mindless babble. Nothing could be further from the truth. Listen to a preschooler by hearing their words, watching their expressions and learning their heart.
2. Play with them.
Play is a significant language of a preschooler. Get down on the floor with them and play with cars or dolls or blocks or whatever they want to do. You will be amazed what you can find out about a preschooler’s view of the world just by playing with them.
3. Laugh with them.
It’s been said that laughter is the universal language. I think there is some truth to that, and rarely will you find a group of people so willing and ready to laugh as a room full of preschooler. So, take advantage of that to build relationships. Find out what they think is funny and go with it!
4. Talk to them.
Talk to them like the wonderful and valuable children of God that they are. Find age-appropriate language, but never assume that they aren’t worth engaging in conversation just because they are young. Sometimes it takes a little more work to talk to a preschooler than it does an older child, but I promise you that it’s worth the effort.
5. Color with them.
Coloring seems to be a universal past time for most preschoolers, and they would love it if you joined in. Pick up a coloring book and color with them. Draw picture with them. Use the time to engage their imaginations and engage them in conversation. Be quick about it, though. While most preschoolers like to color, it doesn’t always hold their interest for a long period of time!
6. Eat with them.
All kids love a snack, right? So, give them one and sit right down with them and eat it. Breaking bread with people is a biblical way of building relationships and there is no need to leave these younger kids out of that process. Use the time to chat and bond over a meal of crackers and juice boxes.
7. Be goofy.
At some point, goofy doesn’t work with kids any more…they just find it kind of…well….goofy. That is not the case with preschoolers. A funny face, a funny sound, falling down, or any other goofy thing you can think up will have them rolling in the aisles. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and just get silly with these kids.
8. Encourage their imagination.
Many kids at this age have an active imagination. They may tell you stories that have absolutely no basis in reality. My three-year-old has invented an entire family that, based on his stories, he must visit 10-15 times a week. Don’t try to squelch that imagination. Instead, enjoy it! Ask questions to further their imagination and stories. Encourage them to share their imaginations with you.
9. Pray with them.
Some preschoolers don’t know what to say when it comes to praying. Others will floor you with their conversational tone and deep requests from our Heavenly Father. Either way, prayer is a great avenue for bonding with any child regardless of age, and it gives you a chance to model prayer for these younger kids.
10. Play with Play-Doh.
I’ve yet to meet a preschooler who doesn’t just adore Play-Doh. There is just something about it. I don’t know if it’s the color or the texture or the fact that you can build almost anything with it, but if you’re looking for a way to spend some quality time with a preschooler, pull out a few tubs of Play-Doh and you’ll be set.
Wayne Stocks writes for Ministry-To-Children.com, a resource started by Tony Kummer to solve children’s ministry problems.