Christmas: Making It Meaningful for Preschoolers

Christmas is an exciting time of year for preschoolers. However, the lights, decorations, music, and crowds can be overwhelming for some children. What do preschoolers think about when they think of Christmas?

* Most will think of getting presents.
* Many will think of Santa Claus and his reindeer.
* Some will think about Jesus, the little baby born in a manger.

With so many ideas about Christmas competing for preschoolers' attention, how can you help make the true meaning of Christmas come alive for the children you teach? Here are a few ideas that might help you do just that.


* Be sure that everything preschoolers hear from you about Christmas is true. Some children are literally surrounded with fantasy. They may never hear the true meaning of Christmas from anyone else. Be sure that everything you say to them in a church setting reflects the truth of Christmas and points them back to Jesus. Help children know that there is more to Christmas than giving and receiving presents.
* Do not try to convince preschoolers that anyone who tells them about Santa is wrong or lying to them. When talk of Santa comes up, direct the conversation to what is true. Instead of saying, "Santa is not real," say: "Do you know what I love about Christmas? It reminds me of how much Jesus loves me and how much He loves you, too!" If Joey wants to tell you what he asked Santa to bring him for Christmas, say, "Joey, do you know that God gave us a very special gift when He sent His Son Jesus to be born in a stable?"
* Choose and plan activities carefully. Use star-shaped cookie cutters with play dough, but avoid Santa and other such shapes. Make a collage of Christmas gift wrap paper pieces or wrap wooden blocks to look like gifts as you talk about the gifts brought to Jesus by the wise men. (Choose paper designs that do not include fictional characters.)
* Sing songs with the preschoolers such as "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night" which focus on Jesus in the manger. Some preschoolers may have never heard these songs. Take this opportunity to help boys and girls learn the words and understand the true meaning of these songs.
* If you choose to give a Christmas gift to the preschoolers you teach, choose something that will help them focus on Jesus. A Bible storybook or a cassette tape of Bible songs is a gift that a child can enjoy. It also can help him better understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Enjoy this special time of year and help make Christmas meaningful for the preschoolers in your department.

Lori Deese teaches preschoolers at First Baptist Church, Cocoa, Florida.

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