Teaching Jesus’ parables to three and four year olds is challenging. Pre-schoolers struggle understanding abstract concepts. The figurative nature of the parables will largely pass them by because they usually think in more literal terms.
This morning the class I was teaching tackled the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Jesus told a story about a farmer planting a tiny little seed. The seed sprouted and grew into the tallest of trees.
We began the class by sorting seeds. The children pulled the tiny mustard seeds from the pile and we marveled that such a tiny seed could grow into a large tree.
The three little boys I was teaching are also very small. They dream of the day when they can be big and strong like their dads. Great men begin as little boys.
Sometimes hands-on activities are helpful in helping pre-schoolers understand concepts. I chose a couple of these to stress the point about growth.
First, I placed a tiny little paper circle on the table. Then, one at a time, I revealed a set of circles of ever increasing size. The children loved stretching their vocabulary to describe the sizes. Tiny, little, small, medium, bigger, enormous, giant and finally, super super huge.
Secondly, I was able to make use of some Matryoshka (nesting) dolls that I had on hand. Seeing the sizes displayed in doll form helped the children relate to how they themselves are in the process of growing.
All in all it was a great class.
Sometimes my efforts in teaching seem extremely small. What difference will my teaching make in the bigger picture? This parable reminds me that God does great things from small beginnings.
Disorder and exposed edges cause us to be tense and unsettled. We fervently scan for those straight edges to establish a boundary and begin to sort things out. We aren’t satisfied until everything is in its proper place and the picture is complete.
It is no wonder we say we “work” puzzles. The process doesn’t seem like “play” at all.
It is work. Yet, even when there is no outside competition involved, we find pleasure in that work. It is a quest for the solution. A desire to find the answer to the problem. Figuring out how the pieces fit together. Consciously or not, all of us are looking for answers. God, in his wisdom has created us curious and hungry to ‘know’. It sometimes feels like very hard work and yet we still seek.
As teachers we can walk alongside children and guide them in the important Christian-life-skill of looking for answers and seeking truth. Throughout their lives truth will always be found in God.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1, NIV