Thoughts from Preschool Director Tony Johnson

January 10, 2022 | Tony Johnson

“Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”

I get to hear this song every weekday at the end of our Bible singing time at Venture Christian Preschool. To hear these young voices proclaiming how much their Jesus loves them stirs my heart. Combine the message of Jesus’ love and the catchy tune and you have a win-win!

Since I began my own personal journey in working with young children some 35 years ago, I lean on a phrase I learned while in college. “Childhood should be a journey, not a race.” Sometimes in our fast-paced world, we forget that what we see as ordinary and mundane, children see, possibly for the first time, as something of wonder and awe, even excitement. Slow down and let them take in what they see and hear.

That’s why I love working with young children. Watching them experience something for the first time, hearing their giggles and excitement at a new story, watching as their hands feel a new sensation or their expressions as they taste a new taste.

How are some ways you can help your preschool aged child or grandchild have positive experiences at home? Here are a few ideas:

1. Play with your child. It is said that play is a child’s work. Through play, a child learns how to share, solve problems, and how to interact with those around them. Providing a lot of time for play, away from the television, will strengthen your child’s development for social interaction and IMAGINATION!

2. Read to your child. There is nothing better than having your child snuggle up on your lap and share a book together. A lot is learned on your lap. Your child learns how to sit still, listen, communicate, how to ask questions. They also hear new words, inflection in your voice, and they are looking at all the pictures. Sometimes a child may want to hear a certain book over and over. This is great! They are getting something new each time it is read to them and they are beginning to associate all of those odd shaped things on the page to words!

3. Have your child help with family tasks. A child is never too young to begin being a part of the family when it comes to helping each other. Picking up toys, helping carry light things from the car after a shopping trip, putting away clothes in a drawer or on a shelf. Allowing them to begin doing this makes them feel a part of the whole and also instills in them responsibility they will need as they grow older.

4. Establish routines. Young children feel more secure when there is a routine in the home. They begin to feel the ebb and flow of their day, knowing when rest time is coming, when meal times happen, bath time, and when it’s time to wind down for bedtime. When a child knows what is coming next, transitions are easier and there is less struggle or defiance from them.

The teachers at Venture Christian Preschool incorporate all of the above in their daily lesson plans. The children are read to each day, they are responsible to help clean up the room and their personal space after snack and lunch, each class has a daily schedule they follow, and there is time for free play.

When I was interviewing for the position of Children’s Minister at Venture in the spring of 2003, one of the questions the elders of the church asked me was, ”What is one goal you would like to see accomplished if we hire you?” Without hesitation, I answered, “I would love to see the church start a preschool.” I saw some eyebrows raise and I saw some smiles. When I was hired, I began planning for that goal.

Preschool Director Tony Johnson at the children's ministry building grand opening in 2010

The ministry of Venture Christian Preschool (then known as Hazel Dell Christian Preschool) began in the fall of 2005 with 26 students and a staff of 6. The goal and purpose of the preschool, then and now, was to be an outreach to the community and provide a Christian-centered program to families living in Hamilton county.