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Photo by Kristin Brown on Unsplash
Photo by Kristin Brown on Unsplash
World News

Christian ministry urges churches to prioritise toddler groups

by Lydia Davies

A new booklet called It's not 'just' a parent and toddler group has highlighted the importance of toddler groups in churches and their role in preparing children for school.

The booklet has been published amidst growing concerns about whether children are acquiring the necessary skills before starting primary school.

Teachers have reported issues such as children's inability to listen, respond to basic instructions, or sit still.

The booklet, compiled by Dave King from Gather Movement, among other organisations, encourages church leaders to recognise the significance of mid-week toddler groups and refutes the tendency to undermine their value.

It's not 'just' a parent and toddler group outlines twelve aspects of school-readiness that toddler groups can help promote.

Among these are the development of children's independence, ability to follow instructions, interact with others, communicate effectively, cultivate resilience, and enhance curiosity.

The publication emphasises the hidden benefits of these "seemingly chaotic" sessions. It states that beneath the apparent disorder lies an opportunity for children's growth and learning.

Jo Gordon, founder and chief executive of Daniel's Den, a charity that champions the value of parent-and-toddler groups, urged churches to appreciate the toddler groups that take place in their halls during weekdays.

She believes these groups positively impact not only the children but also the parents.

Gordon told Premier Christian News: "If you're feeling lonely and isolated, it's not the best environment for a child. Creating a safe welcoming space... in terms of your own sense of wellbeing - that's such a great thing that toddler groups give to so many people."

According to Gordon, one in three mums and one in ten dads suffer from post-natal depression and finding a "group where people are honest [and you have] that level of trust and transparency" creates an "opportunity to share and encourage" each other.

Gordon also mentioned that some church leaders associate toddler groups with mess or storage issues or feel discouraged if children do not attend Sunday services.

She stressed the importance of recognising the missional impact these groups have on local communities and highlighted how crucial it is for young children and families to receive an unconditional welcome at such a vulnerable stage.

While other preschool groups charge fees, most church-run groups are free or low-cost. This makes them more accessible to a broader audience.

The booklet, accompanied by academic evidence concerning school readiness by Narissa Samani from the charity Kids Matter, is available for free download.

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