Holy Week is here and Easter is on the way! Palms came out last Wednesday and Thursday for the children’s Palm Chapels, as we sang “Praise Ye the Lord!” in exuberant rounds! The lawns and playgrounds will soon be filled with bright colored eggs and children scurrying to get as many in their baskets as possible! As a faith-based Christian school, Easter time is honored, celebrated, and lived out in our daily practice with young children, their teachers, and their families. Our highest goal is to share Christ’s love with everyone!
Easter activities, like the ones above, are meaningful and fun, but do you wonder what we say about the harder part of the Easter story? Have you questioned if young children are ready to hear the temporary, yet tragic, turn of events of Holy Week? We believe this is a sensitive subject. Here is the guidance we give to our staff. As partners with our student’s parents, we must respect each family’s decisions about when they want to expose their children to the violent details of the crucifixion. We instruct our staff that this is not a part of the story of Easter that we will introduce at school. As we journey through the season with young children, we focus on these developmentally appropriate, non-violent, truths of Easter:
- Easter is a time when remember and celebrate how much Jesus loves us. He loves you, he loves me, he loves Mommy and Daddy…and so forth. His love is SO BIG that it goes on forever!
- The cross is a symbol that reminds us how much Jesus loves us. You see them in lots of places… in our classrooms, on the church steeple – people even wear them as jewelry. Every time we see a cross, Jesus is reminding us how much he loves us.
Here are some Easter time activities teachers might choose for our preschool children:
- On a walk around the church campus, the children may look for crosses; every time the children find one it’s fun to shout out, “Jesus Loves Me!”;
- We look for developmentally appropriate cross crafts. Each child may make a cross to take home;
- A class may paint a large cross as a classroom community art project;
- We sing “Jesus Loves Me” and other songs about the love Jesus gives to us;
- We read Easter books that offer developmentally appropriate stories about the meaning of Easter;
- Flowering a cross is an Easter tradition that allows us to bring something to Jesus to say thank you for His great love for us!
Other Tips and Hints We Offer Our Early Childhood Educators
- Keep it simple; continually emphasizing that Easter is a celebration to remind us how much Jesus loves us!
- Older children who have learned the story may bring up the crucifixion. Here’s one way to respond, “Yes, some people were mean to Jesus. Here’s the good news, Jesus forgave them and he even loved them very much! Jesus forgives us when we are unkind, too! And Jesus didn’t stay hurt for long. He came back to see his friends and told them to tell everyone how much he loves all people!”
- If they ask what happened to Jesus next, we might say something like this, “He went to heaven; a very special place that he is going to show us someday!” We remind our teachers that death, resurrection, and heaven are also subjects that parents introduce to young children in different ways. Again, we keep it simple. “We all wonder about heaven because we can’t see it; what we know is that it is a place where Jesus loves us!”
We hope this time of year is wonderful for you and your family. We recognize that we welcome families with a variety of spiritual and cultural points of view. Our pastors and staff want everyone to feel at ease and at home. Please let us know if you have further questions. May the love and hope of the season be with each of you! It will certainly be joyous for all of us at SLDS as we continue to play and learn together while celebrating Easter!