By Brittany Notch.
At The School of Grace, two special classes are offered each week. Chapel is offered to the three older classes and Music is offered to every class. This year, the Tadpole and Turtle Classes join each other for Music on Thursdays in the church library. During Music, the preschool Director, Lynn, leads the Music lesson. She sings while teaching children words and movements to each song. Lynn also plays the guitar and introduces an instrument to be played by all the children. Teachers and assistant teachers sing along, assisting the children however possible. Some weeks we play tiny 4oz plastic cups with plastic spoons, other weeks we shake bells strung in a circle on pipe cleaners. We love beating our plastic coffee container drums and sometimes we even use bright colored, mesh scarves to wave around and toss in the air. Many other creative utensils and tools are used as our musical instruments, with my favorite one of all: the wooden percussion frogs.
During the season of Easter, we usually sing “Shake Your Neighbors’ Hand” during Music. At The School of Grace, we incorporate sign language as a form of communication with all age levels, especially during Music. “Shake Your Neighbors’ Hand” is an especially fun song because we move around a lot, shake hands, rub our neighbor’s back and my favorite, sign the words “Jesus” and “friend” during the last verse of the song. As Lynn sings “Jesus is a friend, is a friend next to ya,” children familiar with the song immediately begin using sign language to sign “Jesus” and “friend” with their tiny little toddler fingers. The children learning the song for the first time begin copying Lynn and their friends. Somehow, it is always quiet during this part. While the only sound we hear is Lynn’s beautiful singing voice, our fingers are singing the words in silence. By the end of the last verse, we’re ready to sing and sign “Jesus” and “friend” at the same time. The last verse is a surreal moment, a tear jerker for me every time!
Words cannot explain what a Christ-filled moment this experience is… you simply have to experience it first-hand in order to feel it and understand. While the children probably do not fully grasp the concept that Jesus IS their friend and He is always next to them, we are introducing the concept of a lifelong journey of Faith. We have the privilege to teach the children at The School of Grace that Jesus is always with them, He believes in them, understands how they feel and will always love them, no matter what. That alone is a priceless gift to pass down to beautiful children who are full of life and eager to learn. Then, when you add a beautiful voice singing words about our friendship with Jesus while children sign them, the presence of Christ is unmistakable.
As a Christian adult, I truly believe Jesus is always with me. However, there are times in my life when I am able to feel His presence. For whatever reason, I tend to get a little emotional during these times. I suppose that is my way of processing such a strong, yet incredible feeling. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing for children to see their teacher crying, so I try hard to choke back the tears while at the same time, soak in every precious moment.
This year and last year during Music, one of my three children have been a part of our weekly Music group. Not only do I get to be a part of sharing God’s love with the beautiful children He has put in my life to teach and learn from, but I also get to share it with children of my own. Before becoming a teacher at The School of Grace, I had the opportunity as a Helping Parent to sing this amazing song during Music with Lynn in my oldest child’s class. I am a teacher, however, it is clear I am learning far more about His love for us by sharing Christ-filled moments such as these with my children, students, staff and parents at The School of Grace. For that, I am and will be forever grateful to be a part of such an amazing preschool program.