By Lisa McCleish, Director of Early Childhood Programs
The donation of a wardrobe moving box created a lot of excitement in the 2-year-old room. Yet with this ordinary box, the children have learned about teamwork and cooperation, size and dimension, physics and creating through imagination.
The first, and most difficult, task involved four 2-year-olds moving this “huge” box around two corners, down a hallway and through a door with only cheering and encouragement from their teacher; after some failed attempts, two children pulled, another got in the back and pushed, while the fourth simply couldn’t be bothered (there is always one in the group). Once in the classroom, that ordinary box became an artists’ canvas, a hideout, a garage and a tunnel. There were screams of excitement, giggles and some slight trepidation at going inside when the closed flaps made it dark. After a week, this box is still the center of excitement and imaginative play in that room.
We were fortunate this year to have several brand new families (new to Kansas City) tour and enroll in the preschool and preK program. Frequently the touring family will ask how we include faith in our curriculum; our answer is always the same, “We keep it simple and make it meaningful.”
For the smallest children, this includes songs and music, books to look at and read, a sense of comfort and belonging. As the children gain understanding, it becomes an awareness of others: sharing, taking turns, being helpful. There are simple prayers before snacks and lunch, stories and activities from the Bible, and a bigger awareness of how we can help other people (last summer the preschool camp invited police officers, firefighters and a few veterans to Country Club Christian Church and thanked them with banners, a song and child-made treats). There are field trips to the Zappia Sculpture and visits to the sanctuary to see the beauty of the stained glass windows or to “talk” to God. Questions are answered and asked by both children and adults, simply and in a way that makes sense.
Our hope, and goal, is for faith to be as simple as that cardboard box, yet so meaningful that it elicits questions and creates excitement. Through it all, we work together to help each other out.