By Betty B. Robertson
It's been over 30 years and I still have not forgotten those words.
It's been over 30 years and I have not forgotten those words because I can remember being surprised when he said them. It was new information to me.
I will never forget the words of my Christian Education professor when he said, "Put your BEST teachers in your nursery and preschool classes."
I guess I had always thought the adults needed the "best" teachers!
He continued, "Put your BEST teachers in your nursery and preschool classes -- because those years are so foundational."
When I was a CE Director, there was one quality I looked for in preschool teachers. This quality has been - is - and always will be the strongest element in Christian education. That element is EXAMPLE.
Children are led almost irresistibly by the examples they see and experience. You as teachers and educators help to mold children's lives. This is called modeling.
What is modeling? Modeling is an "example for imitation." Like it or not, children play "Follow the Leader."
Teaching is not just a classroom affair that involves instruction. Teaching should be life-sharing interaction. It is love, guidance, encouragement, modeling an example worth copying.
Children are naturally great imitators. For better or worse, they imitate actions more than words.
If you get frustrated and yell at your kids, "Shut up" -- what are you modeling?
If you gossip about another teacher -- what are you modeling?
Being Christlike is important. The more you as a teacher can reflect Christ in your life, the more likely the children you teach will reflect the Christlike qualities they see in you.
Is your example worth modeling?
Do you yell when you get uptight? Is this an example you want copied by your preschoolers?
Do you raise your voice when you get frustrated? Is this an example you want copied?
Do you have a favorite word you say when you get angry? Is this an example you want copied?
Do you forget to say please and thank you? Is this an example you want copied?
Are you so driven by trying to get all your lesson plans done, that you forget to have prayer with your boys and girls? Is this an example you want copied?
Are you so busy being critical that you forget to say, "I love you and Jesus loves you even more." Is this an example you want copied?
Every preschool teacher should have one of these CARDS posted in their rooms -- where they can read it often: "I will strengthen you. . . I will help you . . . I will uphold you. . . (so you can be the example you need to be) Your Heavenly Father." (as recorded in Isaiah 41:10).