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By Pastor John M. Opperman

Ages 4 - 5

The passing of the child from infancy to early childhood is so gradual that few would be able to mark a change at any given time. As his or her body lengthens his field widens and his mind deepens. His or her environment is enlarged to include the Sunday school, kindergarten, and playground so that teachers and playmates are now forced to be recognized as having a place in the making of their life. If the teachers are non-Christian, this increases the responsibility of the Sunday school. Other forces are calling for the life of the child. We MUST meet this challenge.


The little child is a player and his entire world is a playground. Eating, sleeping and playing are the threefold program of their daily existence. Play has great values for body, mind, and character. While, like activity, play is generally associated with the physical side, it is also a very important factor in the mental, social, and moral development:

A. Play is a physical trainer.
CHANGE is the keyword to the child’s program. All the physical value that work brings to the adult, play provides for a child.
B. The mind of a child is never as clearly revealed as in play. He or she is at home in their own world with no thought of conforming to the rules and restrictions of others.

Childish Instincts are expressed in play.
 “If you watch a young child play,” Taylor says, “you are amused by the number, variety and vigor of his or her movements. Many of these give good exercise, but are a complete waste of energy so far as the results of the game is concerned. Gradually as he or she plays the more he learns to suppress these, and to utilize and to concentrate energy. This is one of the earliest and best lessons in self-control.”

Childish Imitations are expressed in play.
Children’s games are mostly imitations of some experience that has impressed them. The value of imaginative play is many. 
1. It stimulates childish thinking.
2. He or she remembers best what they have learned in this way.
3. They understand actions, purpose, traits and customs through mimicry, his life being enlarged when he or she puts themselves in the place of others.
The child thinks largely in mental pictures. These pictures are expressed in play. The child becomes involved in his or her mental pictures – they are real to them:
1. The little girl dressed up as mother and scolding her dolls just like mother scolds the children.
2. The little boy running in a circle and sliding into home base just like father does.
3. Children playing church, etc.

The value of imaginative play is many:
A. It stimulates childish thinking.
B. They remember best what they learn in this way.
C. The child understands actions, purposes, traits, and customs through the process of mimicking.
D. His or her life being enlarged when they put themselves in the place of others.

Have the child act out Bible stories. Let them enter into the lesson or story. Illustrate the story.


The discovery of their enlarged world and their own personal relationship to this unfolding life, leads him or her to ask never ending questions. Parents and teachers realize that it takes a great deal of patience to answer the run of questions that proceed from a little child. Too often his or her inquiries are suppressed. In silencing speech there is a great danger that we may suppress a natural quest for knowledge as well as a natural quest for expression. It is well to note that:
A. Encouragement or discouragement of a child’s questions will affect their Education.
In pedagogy we learn that the educational process begins only when the pupil ask questions. The child’s question, then, is the index to there mind. The question reveals the fact that he or she is mentally present and that their understanding is prepared for the answer. But if the parent or teacher persists in telling them something in which he or she is not interested, or questions the child about things beyond their understanding there is little value to the instruction.
B. Encouragement or discouragement of a child’s question will affect their Personality.
The child’s question is not only an index to his or her mind, but also the index to them. The question is a manifestation of self-realization and self-seeking. This is not selfishness but simply nature. Self-assertion and self-denial are only possible when self-realization exists in the fullest extent. This is the time for the development of the personality. To wholly repress efforts of self-assertiveness will cause the child to become weak-willed and incapable of taking the initiative. Because of this fact, all questions should be recognized and judiciously answered, that the child may have wisdom rather than knowledge and confidence rather than conceit.


“Faith, without which it is impossible to please God.’ Faith is predominant in a child of four or five. The little child believes everything you tell them, simply because of their lack of experience. Parents and teachers should be absolutely truthful in answering a child’s question. If the reply is honest, it should satisfy, while the explanation need not be beyond the child’s power of comprehension. A child will often find his or her answer if your reply fails to satisfy, but they will respect you more for a confession of limitation in knowledge in such cases.


Training of the little child is divided between home, kindergarten, and Sunday school. The mother still remains the greatest of all teachers if the mother does not have to work outside the home and is willing to spend the proper amount of time in the education of her child.

It is necessary that our Beginner’s department be conducted with order and care if the respect of the parents is to be gained. Organized administration, graded lessons, and TRAINED TEACHERS are needed for the Beginners' department as for any other department in the church.

Three fold program.
As a child comes to love his or her father and mother they may likewise come to love God. The child’s worship is expressed by what they see in their parents. The child understands God as a Father:
A child’s praise is expressed in simplicity. Special songs for children, motion songs, etc.
A child’s prayer should express his own feelings, as well as his praise. Prayer based on Psalms 4:8 ‘Now I lay me down to sleep.’ Just as fitting for morning devotion is “Father, we thank thee for the night, and for the pleasant morning light; for rest and food and loving care, and all that makes the day so fair.”  However it is not necessary that a child follow a set prayer. Encourage them to express themselves in their own way.
Giving is a very important form of worship, and the foundation for generous habits in later life may be successfully laid at this time. The lessons may be lost, however, if parents provide the children with pennies for the Sunday school and larger amounts for candy and other things.

The Bible contains moral and religious truths better adapted to the needs of the individual from infancy to old age then can be found in any other book. The lessons must be adapted to each age level.
If God is pictured to the child as the loving Heavenly Father, who cares for him or her just as their earthly father, the heart of the little child will go out in love to Him.
To deprive a little child of lessons from nature, is to rob them of one of their most precious spiritual inheritances, one of the ways in which God most clearly speaks to his soul.
The interest of a little child in other children assures beyond question that the Bible stories of children are the first ones we should teach them.



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