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Church preschool teaches life skills and the essentials of being a good Christian
Three-year-old Rachel Seid correctly identifies an object Tuesday during preschool at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

While little ones takes their first steps through the doors of learning at preschool offered by local churches, teachers and pastors are making sure that the curriculum isn't just the A B C's, but also lessons in love and the Bible.

This week, students came through the doors of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for their first week of preschool, and director Pam Jovaag said the mission of the school is providing a Christ-centered ministry to the children.

"First and foremost what these children are going to get is the love of Jesus Christ and that he's their savior," said Jovaag, who has been a part of the preschool since its inception 16 years ago. "They are going to learn through our curriculum; they get a Bible story every week ... in that process we want that well-rounded child."

To achieve this, Jovaag points to the many features of the curriculum.

"We're going to work on their social skills, their manners, their academic skills, and we are going to work with them on their large and small motor skills. We want this whole-rounded child with a happy experience," she said.

Throughout the week the students are taught through hands on activities, games, play time and a weekly chapel service with the Rev. Ben Haupt.

"I meet with the kids in our church and sit right down on their level with my guitar," he said. "I know for a fact that the kids go home singing all these new songs about Jesus. When kids take these songs home, the good news about Jesus (spreads) throughout our neighborhoods and communities."

At the First Presbyterian Church Child Development Center, Susan Moon agrees that the school is a direct extension of the church and church values.

"Our day care is a ministry of the church," she said. "We do have programs that reach out to our needy families here. We try to get our parents and children involved in church activities. They are always invited to anything going on.

"We go to chapel once a week. Everybody goes as toddlers and even up to our pre-K. Sometimes even the babies go; the teachers will bring them down in strollers."

At First Presbyterian CDC the pre-K classes are a Georgia-funded program, so the Christian values are not taught directly in the classroom. But Moon said teaching by example also is of importance.

"We set the example every day what Christians would do as far as manners and being nice," she said. "As our families need us, we are always there to help."

The program at Good Shepherd functions as a small school where as First Presbyterian is quite large, but whether big or small, Haupt thinks that sharing Jesus every day is the goal.

"Though we fully support and value the great public schools in our area that are filled with dedicated Christian teachers, we have a distinct opportunity to share Jesus each and every day," he said. "As a private Christian preschool, we can care for our students and their families in ways that state-funded schools cannot."



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