I’m sure we have all heard at some stage throughout our life that the shaping and development of a child takes place within the first 5 years of their life. For those, as young children, that spend the majority of this time in a care environment or even a little bit of the time, as an educator the question beckons “How can I use this time that I have with each individual child and family to shape some ‘Christ-focused’ concepts within them in a secular environment?”
First of all, I believe that by far we should respect and consider the culture of each individual and their family and be aware of boundaries. But as a Christian educator I also believe there are some ways in which we can guide these children and place foundations in them in these formative years that may just change the course of someone’s life in years to come.
One of the first ways, I believe, to set these foundations in a young child’s life is to show love. It may seem basic to some but how many may go through their day possibly not feeling or sensing love and for a child these core needs, if met, can change so much. Constantly seeing the joy on the children’s faces as they find comfort in coming to you for a hug, or the smile and contagiousness of their spirit that spreads across the room when they laugh upon engaging with you in play or the affirmation that comes upon a high five and a ‘good job’. How these little acts of love are setting them up to have a confident and comfortable countenance around others?
Another great way I have found of setting up these foundation is praying for the children in my care as they are being put to sleep. One of the great joys and occasionally difficulties of an early childhood setting is sleep time. How joyful it is to have time to get paperwork done as the children sleep but the process of getting them to sleep sometimes not so much. I have found it a great joy, when I remember, to pray for each child as I pat them to sleep and the future that they hold within them.
For who knows that a quiet prayer to an ever listening God in heaven, about one of his beloved children or an act of love through simple gestures may just lead them into Gods arms in the future because of a praying and caring educator years before.
By Jessica Karter,
Early Childhood Teacher at Good Start Early Learning from Townsville, Australia