By Julie Redmond Donavan
North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
If you are a preschool teacher at church, I’m sure this question has come to mind before. The fact that you change diapers, wipe snotty noses and clean sticky hands may make it feel like you’re just a babysitter, but I promise you are so much more. A babysitter watches children while the parents leave for a date or a special event. So, how are you not just a babysitter?
A preschool or grade-school teacher ministers to the entire family. You are allowing the parents to grow closer to the Lord while you watch their children.
The parents’ cups can be refilled at church so they can use the overflow at home with their children. This also means the children’s cups can be filled with God’s word. At church, every family member’s needs can be spiritually met.
A babysitter helps while the parents go on a date, yes, but you are ministering to families so they can study the Word, fellowship with other believers and worship God. While the parents are being spiritually fed so are the children.
Be intentional about your curriculum. Perhaps you do not use curriculum during your childcare hour. Now is a great time to start!
Special task: sharing truth
You have a special task as a teacher and volunteer at church — you do not want to waste the small amount of time you have with children. You probably only have an hour or two to share the truth of the gospel, so if you are the one in charge of what the children learn, research gospel-centered curriculum. In another article I will discuss what to look for to make sure the curriculum is gospel centered.
Invest time into your lesson and into knowing your children. Children know when you are unprepared and when you have a lack of interest.
How can you invest time into your lesson? Life is full of so many different tasks we must check off our list — house chores, picking up children, work, groceries, lawn care, taking care of dogs, visiting family — the list goes on and on. Be intentional when preparing your lesson each week; you could even tie it into your quiet time.
Setting aside time to prepare your lesson will go a long way, and you will start seeing results in your own life, as well as in the lives of the children in your classroom.
How can you invest time into knowing the children? Take a few moments during Sunday School or Bible study to ask your kids about their weekend or their favorite sport. This time does not have to last long, but you can make it fun by passing around a ball or rolling some dice to see who goes next. Later that week, write each child a letter commenting on what each said — children love to get letters!
If you teach a class of younger children who do not talk, you can still write letters saying how you had fun teaching them in your classroom. Parents notice and love the extra things you do for their children.
You are not just a babysitter! You are an instrument God is using to bring Him glory and grow His kingdom.
God has given you a special gift to lead and love the children you teach. Remember to invest your time, be intentional in what you teach and consider how you are ministering to each child’s family.
Continue to use your gift in your Bible study and Sunday School class, knowing it has a purpose.