When you ask early childhood educators why children should attend preschool, you will hear something like this, “It helps your child socially and emotionally. In preschool, your child learns the art of cooperation, how to be respectful towards others, and how to solve problems. Preschool is a place where kids can gain confidence, explore, and play with friends.” In other words, preschool allows young children a safe place to learn how to play well with others.
I think we can all agree that God wants us to play well with others. But I know I find myself reverting back to solitary play – having the attitude that I can do it alone, no one understands what I’m going through, or I simply can’t care about anyone else right now. Unlike my child self, I can read God’s Word for guidance. And what will I find? A God who wants me to play well with others!
Stages of Play
Unoccupied Play: Children watch others rather than play.
John 15:4-5: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Lesson: We can do nothing without God!
Solitary Play: Children pursue their own activities within speaking distance of others.
Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Lesson: Lean on Him!
Parallel Play: Children play beside rather than with others.
1 Corinthians 14:26: What is the outcome then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
Lesson: Worship together, encouraging each other!
Associative Play: Children play with other children, converse about the activity, and borrow and loan play materials without organization or a common goal.
Romans 15:5-6: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lesson: Live in harmony with the common goal of glorifying God!
Cooperative Play: Children play in an organized group for the same purpose and common goal; a division of labor is evident with members of the group taking on different roles.
Romans 12:4-8: For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Lesson: We have been given different talents, yet we are all part of the body of Christ!
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, the preschool staff will see the children they teach growing by leaps and bounds. We pray that you, too, will grow – working together with fellow brethren, lifting each other up, having the common purpose of glorifying God. May you play well with others!
In His love,
Jo Ann Emerson, Preschool Director