The Church Nursery
I began my love for Children’s Ministry in the nursery. Since I was a teenager, I loved to care for little babies. When I was a single young adult, I always asked to hold my friends’ babies during worship at church. When I became a mother, the first place I volunteered in Kid’s Ministry was in the nursery. One thing I’ve learned as a mother and Children’s Pastor is that babies have the capacity to learn simple truths. If science is correct, a child’s basic self concepts develop between month 18 and 30, according to mentalhelp.net. This means that not only are our nursery babies learning to walk and say words, they are also deciding who they are and how the world works around them.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned about church nurseries.
- Nursery Ambiance
Teaching babies is obviously different than teaching 5th grade. Babies are learning from their environment and connection to others. So, the nursery set up and ambiance is as important as the lesson plan. Having a safe, comfortable, peaceful atmosphere should be the first goal of every nursery worker. How do we set up this environment? First, we choose safe peaceful child care workers. We turn on tranquil worship music. We encourage parents to take crying babies out of the nursery to console them. Have you ever noticed that when one baby cries, they all start crying?
- Babies can learn
Loving on the babies is the first goal of any nursery worker, but we must not forget that the young child is also able to learn. I have been writing a church nursery curriculum that involves reading “The Beginner’s Bible” to the babies while they have their daily snack. While reading the story, the teacher introduces one visual aid that will remind the baby of the Bible story they are learning. The teacher also introduces a simple chant that has a movement included. For example, “God created everything!” The babies say it with you, if they are verbal. But the teacher can also move their hands into giant circles while saying “God created everything” and encourage or help the babies to make the movements too. Some older children, between ages 18-30 months will be able to demonstrate this learning concept to their parents when they are picked up from the nursery. But even if they are too young to repeat what they have learned, we can feel sure that they are being saturated in Biblical truths and it is settling into their sweet young spirits to be kept for later.
- Babies can worship
Another important part of our Baby lesson plan is worship. Babies love music. They love to dance and move. They are fascinated with instruments. Anytime a musician is invited into the nursery to play worship songs, the babies gather around the instrument, inspecting it, trying to touch it. They do not have to be instructed to dance, it comes out of some children naturally. We encourage a worship time for each class, whether it is through a guest musician, a worship cd, or a Praise Baby DVD. I have also been writing little truth songs to the tune of old Nursery Rhymes that can be sung with the babies after their daily lesson. These truth songs help to solidify the truth concept of each lesson.
- Pray for the baby
Lastly, and most importantly, we encourage the nursery workers to lay hands on each baby’s head and pray a blessing over them each Sunday. Pray for the baby, the family, and bless them. If the teacher feels like the Lord has given them an encouragement for the baby or family, we encourage them to write it down on our encouragement postcards and give it to the parents at pick up.
It’s important to move out of a socializing babysitting situation in our church nurseries and move into a learning zone for babies. Babies are capable of learning so much more than we realize. If you are interested in learning more about the church nursery curriculum that I am writing, you can message me for more details. I hope to have some free samples soon.