August 17, 2012 by eric echols
This summer I flew from Atlanta to Uganda for a mission trip. The time in Uganda was amazing; the 18 hours of traveling…not so much. I was cramped, uncomfortable, and nothing seemed to fit right. The chairs were too small, the legroom was too narrow, and like the 18 month old two rows up, I just want to start screaming half way through the flight.
When the engineers at Boeing were designing airplanes they didn’t sit around and put my ability to be comfortable on the top of their list of necessities. Let’s be honest, I’m not even sure that they put having any sense of comfort on that list at all.
I wonder how many children feel the same way when they enter our children’s ministry classrooms. In essence, they are walking into an adult space that just happens to be located in a preschool ministry hallway. I’m sure they are thinking, “the chairs are too big, the table is too tall, and it just doesn’t fit me”. Unlike Boeing, we need to think first and foremost about the kids when setting up our preschool and children’s ministry environments.
There are three criteria to use when determining if a preschool room is “child-sized”. Accessible, Practical, and Visible.
First of all, our classrooms need to be accessible. Can the kids reach the sink? Are the tables and chairs kid-friendly? Is the tallest shelf on your bookcase reachable by a three-year old?
Secondly, everything needs to be practical. Are the toys age appropriate? It’s probably not a good idea to give your preschoolers a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Are your crafts easily completed by a 1st grader in the allotted time?
Finally, everything needs to be visible. Is everything at eye level for a child? Are your toy bins clearly labeled with the name of the item in the bin to help kids identify what they are looking for? During your Bible story, can you make eye contact with all the kids so they can see and engage with you?
By ensuring that everything in your children’s ministry environments are accessible, practical, and visible; you are designing a place with kids in mind. A “child-sized” preschool and children’s department is inviting and comfortable and just the right fit for the kids in your ministry.