Published: November 17, 2023
A preschooler’s senses heighten as he or she experiences the sacred and secular activities of Christmas. Church leaders and parents often struggle to balance the magic of commercialism with the birth of God’s Son, Jesus. When Santa and baby Jesus sit on the same shelf, children may become confused about what’s fact and what’s fiction. Follow these practical tips to keep Jesus as the central truth of Christmas.
1. Separate legend from truth with facts about Jesus’ birth.
Emphasize that everything in the Bible really happened. Authenticate Jesus’ birth as a historical event by pointing out Bethlehem on a map. Then talk about what a manger is, describe the work shepherds did, and more. Complex ideas such as immaculate conception or prophecy aren’t appropriate for these concrete thinkers. But you can teach them that the Bible is full of God’s promises to send Jesus, and there are many details about his birth that prove Jesus is God’s Son.
2. Urge families to create holiday traditions that center on Jesus and make other holiday elements secondary.
Offer parents devotional resources and preschool-friendly advent calendars. Suggest going on a Christmas-light scavenger hunt and talking about Jesus as the light of the world. Recommend that they invest in a nativity set children can touch. Then, hide baby Jesus for them to find each morning when they wake up. Children love hearing the story about their own birth and who came to visit them compared with the events of the Nativity.
3. Encourage children to prepare for Christmas with actions that emulate Jesus and other nativity people.
First John 4:10 says, “…he [God] loved us and sent His Son,” not only to be our Savior, but also to be our example. Guide preschoolers to copy the actions of Jesus: Thank God for family and friends, show love to others with gifts and kindness, and help others by sharing money and items with those less fortunate. Prompt children to love Jesus like Mary and Joseph did, praise Jesus like the angels did, tell others about Jesus like the shepherds did, and bring gifts and offerings to Jesus like the wise men did.
4. Help children recognize that Jesus matters every day of every season, not just at Christmas.
At the end of December, all those Christmas decorations will be boxed up. But reading God’s Word, learning simple Bible truths, having family faith talks, and living like Jesus can be year-round priorities for families with preschoolers.
Brooke Gibson is the minister to preschoolers at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
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