Preschoolers—they grow and change at such an overwhelming rate that it’s sometimes hard to decide when to “promote” them to the next “age.” Is a two-year-old who just turned three on Saturday now in the “threes” room? What about those kids that are five but aren’t going into kindergarten yet? How about the child that’s walking all over the place but isn’t officially two? How do you decide when to promote them?
There really is no right answer to the question. There are so many variables that it is impossible for us, the First Look team, to say what will work for your environment. However, we can say that having a strategy in place is an absolute necessity. Miss Suzy can’t promote Tiffany while Miss Jane chooses to keep Bobby just because Miss Jane doesn’t want to give him up. If it’s time for them to move on, it’s time for them to move on. You need to come up with a plan that takes all the unique aspects of your environment into account.
While we can’t give you an exact formula to follow, we can let you know what some of our partner churches do to promote their preschoolers. Perhaps you will find a piece of a plan that will work for you.
Promote on the school year:
Do you know what the cut off is for your local school system? As in, does a child need to be five by September first to be enrolled in kindergarten? Then, you can use September first as your cutoff. A child must be four by September first to be in the fours room. A child must be three by September first to be in the threes room. A child must be two by September first to be in the twos room. Once you get below twos, it gets a little tricky. This is when you have to promote by developmental stage. You could have a toddler room, a crawler room and a baby room. Then, each August/September, you promote all the classes ages two and above at once. When everybody moves at once, it could become a big celebration day all the way around. This works especially well if your elementary environment promotes on the school year as well.
Promote by birthday:
When Suzy turns two, she moves to the twos room. When she turns three, she moves to the threes room and so on. This works great in smaller churches where a child’s developmental level can be considered when doing the curriculum. An older three-year-old and a younger three-year-old are light years apart as far as crafting ability, attention span and articulation. If you have a small room where everyone can be met at their level, this works wonderfully and keeps the mamas happy. One thing you do have to consider is where is the holding space for them to move into the elementary environment. You will want to make sure there is a firm plan in place with the elementary leader for when children will promote into their environment.
Similar to the birthday option, this would have you promoting all the children that have turned two in the last three months at the same time. Promoting in small groups may make it easier on your staff emotionally and logistically than trying to keep up with weekly birthdays or trying to do everyone at the same time.
There are MANY different ways to promote preschoolers. Every one of you currently has a system. The key is to make sure that the system is consistent and communicated. Is it even written down? Do you revisit it every year to make sure it still works with your growing environment? Is the same system in use throughout the church so that it’s easier for parents to understand? Do your parents know the system?
So, how are you going to promote preschoolers this year? What’s your plan? We’d love to hear it.