In this section:
Engaging with, and offering creative opportunities for under 5s. Helping to identify childrens God given gifts, interests and passions and creating opportunities to use them and live them out as their faith develops.
Reaching out to families of under 5s within the community where the children spend a significant amount of time.
Nurseries can feel difficult to engage with and often the buildings are designed with high security measures so dont always feel approachable. They are often very busy places with sometimes sessional care meaning churches cant always see the best way of supporting them.
Historically it would have been the role of the vicar or employed person to visit and work within the local community however this is changing with members of Church now often engaging and working with local community settings.
Demonstrating Christian love and sharing the Gospel with children under 5s in their nursery setting where they will spend a large part of their time.
Nurseries will usually have a Head Teacher, Leader or Manager. It would be usual to make contact with them to first discuss making links with the church. Nurseries may have a clear idea of what they deliver and may not see how the church could support them. Asking them How can we support you? in the first instance is helpful. However, it is also useful to have ideas in mind, and to know the skills and availability of volunteers or have a clear invitation to offer them. This will give purpose for contact and can make it easier for nurseries to engage. Commit as a church to praying intentionally for the nurseries in your area and for the staff and children. If your Church has a Pre-School onsite look at regular ways of engaging with them such as offering to share a story weekly with them or inviting them into church for a regular time of gathering. They could also be invited to use church with their families at special occasions such as their end of year graduations.
All nurseries have to follow the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. As part of this, nurseries will often take children out into the local community including places of worship. An invite to visit Church in most cases will be very welcome! A welcoming visit to church could be a great way to start to build relationships with a nursery.
Intentional visits or simple services or activities could be created mid-week for Nurseries to bring children along to. These could be at key times in the year such as harvest, Easter, and Christmas. As relationships grow parents of the children could be invited to something like a nativity.
Going in to nurseries
Nurseries in general tend to have fewer volunteers who visit compared to Schools. There are many potential opportunities to offer to nurseries in terms of using skills and gifts from people in the church.
Pray. Bake. Read could easily be adapted to younger children, with simpler stories being shared with them. Find out more by looking on the Pray.Bake.Read page.
As staff are often busy in settings, offering to go to play and spend time with children would be welcomed and can help to build relationships between the nursery and church. Other activities such as baking, crafts or sewing could be offered, identifying skills and gifts within the church will help with ideas. In these cases, offering to take materials in to the nursery do activities would be helpful and welcome.
Creating a team
It is important for building relationships and sustainability that the link with the nursery isnt with just one person. Finding and building a team of volunteers who particularly enjoy interaction with young children is crucial. Encourage time for them to meet, pray and strategically plan opportunities and work within the nurseries to help sustainability. It is also important for them to share their work with the main congregation to encourage and celebrate it, as most nursery families will not be there on a Sunday Morning.
Find nurseries in your area.
Early Years Foundation Stage 2017
Distinctly Christian Pre-School resources