Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but I prefer serving in the nursery to attending the “grown up” classes with my age mates.
When I move to a new ward, I always start by asking the Primary president if she needs help with the nursery classes.
What’s not to like? There are toys, snacks, and a lot of action songs. And I can roll around on the floor during class, barking like a dog with fewer raised eyebrows than if I do the same in Gospel Doctrine.
And the kids are incredibly cute.
[Photo credit: nendra_gunawan via Creative Commons]
They are full of wonder at the world, like the child Wordsworth describes as seeing “splendour in the grass.” They are mesmerized by my beaded floral skirt. They tell engaging stories about their boo-boos of the week. They give me warm hugs. Even if I can’t quite understand what they are saying, they are entirely earnest.
But I’m also forging bridges from free-for-all play to a more structured environment.
On the surface, I appear to be just playing with them, but behind the scenes, I am working to discern their preferred modes of learning, communicating, and problem solving. Who is visual? Who is verbal? Who is kinesthetic? I’m also trying to figure out their interests so that I can design activities that help them transition from play time to their next church environment: the more structured classroom and sharing time of junior Primary.
When the lesson doesn’t go as planned, I can just throw that all out the window and start singing or hugging or start a “show and tell” game. Now, wouldn’t that be fun option for Relief Society if the lesson isn’t going well?
Ultimately, each child is a mystery. When I get “stuck” trying to stick to my lesson plans, I try to accept the invitation to set aside my education theory and let love be my guide. I see through a glass darkly, as St. Paul admonishes.
These children have eternity before them. They are full of infinite possibilities. By taking the long view, I’m not really that much further down the path than they. Sometimes when I’m in the nursery, time collapses on itself. I feel the past, present and future converge. It’s an honor to inhabit briefly the same time and space with them. .
And if I ever return to sharing a classroom with grown up saints, I hope to regard my age mates with the same degree of wonder. And maybe if I brought popcorn balls for all the grown up class members, the Sunday School president would let me offer a dramatic rendition of “Popcorn Popping.” At minimum, I bet I could sit on the floor and play with the kids who are not quite ready for nursery –but very ready to be wiggly, like me.