STARTING YOUR INFANT & TODDLER MINISTRY
THE HEART & VISION
1) Establishing Your Team
If you’re just getting started with your infant and/or toddler ministry, it may seem like a daunting task. The good thing is, we’ve done this before and we’re here to help! If you’ve already read about who we are, you know that our approach to children’s ministry doesn’t exactly fit the normal model of “babysitting” while mom and dad are being spiritually fed. (See Our Heart and Founder’s Message for more on that.) With the first three years of life being quite literally the most imperative years in shaping the rest of our lives, we take our nursery time seriously knowing that we are not only caring for a child’s physical needs, but speaking into their soul and spirit, which are alive from day one of conception.
With that being said, we understand that you have to start somewhere. In pursuing infant/toddler ministry, you have already shown that you have a heart and a vision to invest into a new generation to see them start their lives saturated in their God-given identity and purpose. That’s a huge start already! Now, as you begin to gather your teachers and helpers for your new or changing infant ministry, you want that desire that you have to be shared amongst your team. We encourage each of you to listen to “The Foundational Years Message” by WTTB® vision holder below.
Listen to “The Foundational Years” message by Dr. Melodye Hilton
It is also important to note as you gather your team that each state holds laws on what criminal record checks and child protective reports are required for those working or volunteering around children. Please be sure to check your state’s requirements and ensure that ALL your children’s workers hold the appropriate checks. This is not only the law, but our responsibility as ones entrusted to care for these precious young lives. Always be sure to keep copies of all checks in a secure location on site in your ministry. It is also a good practice to keep a file of all your children’s workers’ names, what checks they have completed, and when their checks are due for renewal. There should ALWAYS be two or more cleared adults (over 18) present with any child(ren) within a classroom/ministry setting. This is not only protecting the children we care for, but providing a safe and trusted environment for parents and our community.
As you begin or continue to gather your ministry team, be encouraged that you are saying “yes” to a role that is necessary, important, and needed for a generation to know who they are in Christ and to live as healthy and secure individuals as they grow both inside and out!
2) Protocol & Procedures
As you establish your team, you will also be creating systems and structures for how your ministry will function. We have created Nursery Administrative Tools to help with this. These tools include guidelines for nursery ministers as well as a packet for parent’s of nursery children. While these guidelines can be adjusted to fit your own ministry, they can act as a sample for you and your team. You can keep or change as much or as little as you’d like.
Guidelines for Nursery Ministers Includes:
- Statement of purpose for nursery ministry
- Nursery coordinator and function responsibilities
- How to establish a baby ministry
- Refining a present nursery ministry
- Sample classroom agenda for lead teacher
- Commitment and qualifications for nursery ministers
- Directives for infant ministry/nurturing in love
- Procedures/clean and in order
- Infant ministry teaching aids
- Infant ministry duties
- Table ministry duties
- Immunization notice
- Snack guidelines
- Nursery team leader responsibilities
Nursery Parent Packet Includes:
- Parent’s welcome letter
- Nursery statement of purpose
- Childcare information form
- Nursery guidelines for parents
- Nursery health standards
- Spiritual authority consent
- Prayer request form
- Cold season note
- Immunization notice
- Parent’s prayer
OUR GIFT TO YOU
Save 50% on Nursery Administrative Tools by using coupon code STARTINGOUT at checkout.
3) Creating a Great Space
And then there is the nursery space itself. Whether you are making adjustments to an existing nursery room, or starting from scratch in a new space, the goal is not only have a place that is a safe and caring environment to meet a child’s physical needs, but also an area that is conducive for a child’s spiritual growth. In our own nursery, the space is small, however, through years of experience we have learned how even the smallest of spaces can be maximized for the most impact. Here are some things that have worked for us and may be a great launching point for you and your team.
Low-Height Table & Chairs
This low-height custom table and chairs is perfect for toddlers as it keeps a classroom structure and allows teachers to engage with little ones at their own level.
Eye-Level Flash Cards
We hang laminated flash cards at adult eye-level around the room. When a nursery worker is ministering to a child one-on-one, they can walk around the room and read the identity statements right at eye height.
Behind the Teacher
Behind our teacher’s table we keep regularly used items on a shelf beneath the table always ready for a teacher to grab. We have prepared lesson boxes labeled in the corner and all Who’s Teaching the Babies?® curriculum materials right at hand in an organized plastic bin.
We use labeled Ziplock bags in a locking plastic bin to keep each set of curriculum (i.e. flash cards, matching games, paper dolls, etc.) in order. This is important when multiple teachers use the same classroom.
Orderly and Handy
We use binder clips to keep our Hide & Seek card sets together and kept in a plastic basket ready to use by any teacher. It’s important to keep things in their set place during and after each class so that every teacher knows just where to find what they need every time.
Jesus Picture & Salvation Ministry Tools
It is a good idea to have a picture of Jesus in the classroom as even babies come to recognize Jesus as His character and love for them is ministered to them. This is also a great addition to the Salvation Ministry Tool set which is perfect for leading young ones through the plan of salvation.
Our “Sign-in Station” is kept right by the classroom door and is where parents “sign-in” their child for nursery before each service. Every parent is assigned a call number should they need to attend to their child at any point. We also have all of our new parent and child information forms in a file bin always at hand for new parents and children.
Use small objects for some hands-on fun while using curriculum elements to teach truth. We have a small treasure chest that opens and closes that is perfect for tucking Matching Game cards inside as each child learns the treasures that God has placed within them. Adding tangible elements makes the possibilities endless for creating lessons or for spontaneous ministry.
Object Lesson Baskets
These shelves with pull-out baskets are great for quick teacher access at any time. This is where we keep interactive objects that we utilize while ministering identity and purpose to toddlers and small children. For example: we have a small tool box with plastic tools that can be used while ministering to children’s abilities, talents, and purpose. We keep plastic fruit on hand for teaching the fruit of the spirit. Small people figures can be used to demonstrate compassion. The possibilities are endless!
Who Will You Let In Your House?
In our nursery, any “toy” we have is for ministering identity and destiny. This small doll house is a great illustration of the choices that we have (yes, even at the youngest age) of what we will allow inside of us. We can make the choice to allow fear to live inside of us, or to send fear packing and embrace perfect love. We can accept anger and lies or trade them for joy and truth. Using little people figures and this house that opens and closes, we can teach even the smallest children the choices that they have to say “no” to ugly attitudes and actions and “yes” to the things of God. Click here for a free resource on how to teach this important lesson.
Identity Ministry Books
Our Identity Ministry Books are spiral bound and kept in a basket on the floor next to a rocking chair. This is convenient for when a nursery minister is rocking a restless child, bottle feeding, or holding a sleeping infant.
Above the Changing Table
The Father’s Blessing Prayer and other flash cards are hung in front of the changing table so that nursery ministers can read identity statements and prayers over a child during changing time. TIP: We use a removable wall putty to hang laminated flash cards on walls. This saves wall paint from being damaged and allows us to change the order of flash cards at any time.
Soothing Background Music
We keep an iPod loaded with the Identity Statements with Background Music track right by our pack-n-play so that as a baby is sleeping, their identity and purpose are still being spoken over them and saturating the classroom atmosphere. You could do the same with any phone or mp3 playing device.
4) Teaching Identity and Purpose
One thing that’s exciting about WTTB® resources is that they can be used in countless different ways! Whether you are starting out with the whole kit and caboodle or just a few flash card sets, the possibilities are endless.
Unlike many of the programs or curriculums you may be accustomed to, Who’s Teaching the Babies?® does not function on a week-by-week schedule. Any of the pieces can be used at any time. Once purchased, you can print off the sets and you’re ready to go! (Note: We do recommend lamination for durability.) If you are working with solely infants, the truths provided simply read aloud over them is life-giving affirmation of their God-given purpose that will impact their very body, soul, and spirit forever. As the children grow, or if you are working with an older or mixed-age class, simply add in age-appropriate interactions and activities to relate to your group. If you need some help getting those creative juices flowing, here we provide lots of ideas for how you can make the truth come alive in your classroom. We’re constantly adding more, so be sure to check back often.
Be sure to share this link with your teaching team too so that they can use these examples as a launching pad for lesson creation and teaching times.
Thank you for your heart, your obedience, and your willingness to invest into a valuable generation! May the seeds that you sow reap a harvest beyond your wildest dreams!
As you continue on in your journey of infant and child ministry, we are here to help. If you have any questions, concerns, or even ideas for further ministering identity and purpose, we’d love to hear from you! Blessings to you as you make a difference…one baby at at time.
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