My friend Roseanne sent me this:
It made me laugh.
That is how I felt, almost, excepting I was so very dramatic about it.
That’s not the same as being a baby-hater, though, and it’s not the same as unwilling or disagreement.
I absolutely know that if nursery lead is my new calling, then it is the exact right calling for me, and I am sincerely excited to begin the adventure. I cannot fathom what on Earth (no pun intended) Heavenly Father thinks I have to offer that room full of babies. I know, though, that they have already brought me delight and excitement.
For one thing, all of them are boys. The entire nursery. They are all boys, except for the two baby girls I will carry in each week, one on each hip, drooling all over me and clutching at whatever jewelry or clothing I was foolish enough to wear that day. There might be other girls I haven’t met yet, but thus far they were all boys.
For another thing, it’s in my patriarchal blessing. So I kind of knew it was coming, and kind of not surprised it came now. I knew it would be one of those things – like everything else since I was baptized – that seemed uber hard in the beginning, but would turn out to be a miracle to me. I expect that besides all the challenges, there will be blessing after blessing hidden in the experience, so I definitely plan on participating. I am excited, even. Honest!
I looked at the manual tonight, trying to start getting into the groove a little. I have been praying everyday, and I think of those little ones every night as I fall asleep. I am in awe that I will be set apart for this little assignment, and asked to be a steward of and receive revelation for these precious little ones. They are so tiny and new and pure and amazing, and I feel as if something most sacred has landed in my hand and I don’t want it to spill.
Looking up the nursery manual gave me a good idea of the lesson outlines. It also linked me to special teaching instruction for working with nursery age children. Many promises are given, including these:
As you teach children, you will find that you receive special blessings. Children will bring joy to your soul and prompt you to be a good example. As you come to recognize the faithfulness, love, trust, and hope of children, you will grow closer to the Lord and better understand His commandment to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:3). With the Spirit to guide you, you can love and teach children in a Christlike way. You can help each child find the peace promised to those who follow the Savior: “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (3 Nephi 22:13).
It gives reminders that:
- Children are believing and receptive to the truth;
- Children can recognize the influence of the Spirit;
- Children learn through what is familiar to them;
- Children want to move about, use all their senses, explore, and try new things, and will be more attentive and excited about learning when you use a variety of teaching methods and activities to teach gospel principles;
- Children want to love and be loved;
- Children are already preparing now for their futures;
- Children learn more from your attitude and example than from your words; and
- Children have an abundance of energy, plan ways to allow them to move or to see, hear, smell, or touch something as part of each lesson
Back in the nursery manual, the purpose of nursery class is laid out in depth:
The purpose of the nursery class is to help children learn the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and live it. The nursery class should help the children increase their understanding of and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, have positive experiences in a Church setting, and grow in feelings of self-worth.
In discussing the schedule to follow weekly, it gives some good reminders:
- The environment should be cheerful and the workers attentive;
- Lessons should still begin and end with prayer;
- Plenty of playtime is super important;
- You can teach the same lesson twice in one block for nursery, if that helps the children better learn and understand the material; and
- Use a copy of the scriptures when teaching, so they can see it and feel it and touch it.
Then it goes on to list a variety of scenarios that are terrifying, about children being upset or fighting over toys or not interested in the lesson, and how to handle each situation. I feel prepared for this piece of it from my work experience, so maybe I do have something to offer. Maybe.
Also, in addition to some resources different friends have suggested, I found this blog post, which was the temporal version of the very spiritual nursery manual. It had super good tips, including some excellent ideas for keeping the time more structured and the environment more welcoming. This I know how to do, thanks to my day job, and I am on it!
That gives me some substance to ponder, I think, a good starting place for praying and trying things out and seeing what we can do to help these little ones.
It’s more than just caring for them for two hours.
It’s about welcoming them, knowing them, teaching them, celebrating them.
It’s about nourishing them.
And secretly having some fun along the way.
Maybe a lot of fun.
This is going to be a grand adventure.
And I will try really hard not to get the 2 year olds kicked out of church.