Babies and Toddlers Can Learn Too!

Surprisingly, the fastest growing area at New Vision Ministries in Springfield, Missouri is the nursery. By talking with visiting parents, Pastor Nathan Whidden found out that choosing a curriculum is just one of many things needed to make a great first impression in the nursery. Here’s how to get started…

1. Welcome parents and baby

Friendly volunteers. A warm smile is the best way to welcome both baby and parents. By arriving early to get everything ready for the day, volunteers can make a great first impression on new families.

Information packets. Preparing information about the nursery and what babies and toddlers will be learning makes it easy to emphasize how well children will be cared for. Include things like a welcome letter, check-in and safety procedures, an information page for the parent to fill out, helpful phone numbers, and an overview of what the child will be learning.

Check-in and safety procedures. Next, the nursery coordinator needs to organize the check-in process and train volunteers to carry it out each week. This important routine is comforting to little ones as they transition from parent to nursery. Plus it helps mom and dad relax and enjoy the service.

2. Show you care with decorated spaces and clean toys

Fun atmosphere. Bright paint and decorations on the walls extend the warm welcome into the babies’ and toddlers’ rooms. But the real fun comes from the volunteers who sign up each week to care for the kids. Singing and snack times are just a few of the ways they can make the nursery fun for little ones.

Age-appropriate toys. Check every toy to make sure it meets the safety requirements for young children. Hosting a nursery shower or taking a special offering are great ways to get everyone in the church involved in nursery ministry. Kids will enjoy variety, so separating the toys into different sets and alternating them will give kids the impression that there are new things to play with. Then it’s up to the volunteers to get down on the floor and play too!

Note: The best toys are ones that can be easily sanitized after each service.

3. Recruit your nursery team

Finding volunteers. Nursery often requires many people to staff, so recruit as many as you can. Establish safe ratios of adults to babies. Then look beyond mothers to seniors and teens with supervision. Some churches even choose to hire one person to oversee the nursery. It can make a great part-time job for someone.

Background check. Don’t overlook this important step to verify you have safe, responsible adults caring for your kids.

4. Do more than babysit

Choose a curriculum. Even little babies can learn, so find an easy-to-use curriculum, such as Sunlight Kids. Whether the nursery coordinator or other dedicated volunteers lead the lessons each week, everyone in the nursery should be able to reinforce what’s being taught. For example, the Cards on the Sunlight Kids Coordinator CD-ROM offer a simple way to reinforce the lesson at various stations around the nursery (changing table, snack table, etc.).

Repetition, repetition, repetition. The right nursery curriculum will repeat the same Bible story for multiple weeks to help little ones learn. Even if volunteers get bored, encourage them to focus on how much more the children are retaining from week to week.

BONUS! Everyone who serves in the nursery gets to be a part of the most important first in these little ones’ lives … their first steps toward understanding how much God loves them.

Article taken from Discipleship Ideas, Fall 2008. Copyright 2009 by Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved. Permission to duplicate for local church use only.

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