This week we celebrated Week of the Young Child here at the church preschool. This special week is dedicated to bringing attention to the needs of young children and what our responsibilities are to them. As a preschool director, this is constantly on my mind every day, not just this special week.
Remember back when you were very little. What are your first memories? Did you feel safe and loved? Did you play in the dirt, get stung by a bee, fall and scrape your knee? Did someone read to you, make you eat your vegetables, take you on a trip? Did you welcome a new baby sister or bother, and how did you feel about that?
Young children have very basic needs, and they are very self centered. It is difficult for them to see beyond their own person and think of others. They see the world in a very concrete manner. Their little brains and hearts are formed by those around them and the circumstances in which they live. In fact, their brains are forming so rapidly in the first five years of life, there is no other time they will grow so much. The ability to trust, love, express, and think outside the box is at a critical state in those early years.
Learning that Jesus is our God who loves us and lives in our hearts is powerful for little ones. How blessed our preschool children are to learn in an environment rich in pointing out God’s love and Grace. Can young children hold on to teachings of God’s love and presence in their lives? It is through their eyes I know this is so very true. I see it every day, and I recognize how powerful it is to teach children about Jesus.
Young children marvel in a tiny ant. They get excited to see one single flower and often stop to pick it. They openly ask real and awkward questions about every topic. They are curious and want to find out. They touch everything. They run or skip everywhere they go. They have a natural joy that shows. They giggle openly, laugh at ridiculously tiny things, and tell you when they are mad. They cry real tears in front of everyone, not caring who sees. They run and give a big hug without hesitation.
What if we as adults lived like that? We work hard as adults to never demonstrate childlike behaviors. We have tremendous responsibilities as adults and we see pain that goes beyond skinned knees daily in the form of cancer, terror, war, homelessness, fear and death.
Even though living involves joy and pain, take a minute each day to see if you can spot your curiosity. Check out that tiny spider crawling across your desk with fascination. Give someone a hug. Let a small child see you give them a smile in the grocery store. Smile at their parent, too. Look up at the sky and spot a cloud, or bird, or plane… or God. Remember your childhood, breathe deep and know God’s presence in your life. If you get the chance, help a little one know God’s love, too. They will remember this and take it with them as they grow.