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Early Childhood Winning: Birth-Three

I believe the real horror of Nursery Ministry is when leaders fail to teach to the level of learning of their kids.  When we start to define success for our leaders, set realistic expectations, get to know our kids, and submit our needs to prayer we can begin to lead in new and creative ways.  I’ve found the following materials as it relates to development of kids and I’d like to share!

What should I expect both developmentally and spiritually?  

Speaking directly about those kids between one years old and three, I’ve found the following information.

Developmentally // One – Three

By one:

  • Follows moving objects with eyes
  • Recognizes differences among people
  • Responds to and imitates facial expressions
  • Responds to very simple directions
  • Puts small objects in and out of container with intention

Between one and two:

  • Imitates actions and words of adults
  • Understands and follows simple, familiar directions
  • Is able to match similar objects
  • Looks at storybooks with adults
  • Recognizes difference between you and me
  • Has very limited attention span
  • Accomplishes learning through own exploration

Between two and three:

  • Responds to simple directions
  • Stacks rings on pegs in order of size
  • Recognized self in mirror, saying baby, or own name
  • Can talk briefly about what he/she is doing; imitates adult actions
  • Has limited attention span; learning is through exploration and adult direction


Infancy 3 Years // Sensing Security

The greatest need is to feel that the world is a safe place and that the people in it are dependable.   The sense of security and trust usually comes from the family and provides a foundation for children to trust God.   The primary learning tool is mimicking.

Ministry Implications:

  • Talk, Read, play, sing, and pray with children
  • Involve children in activities with other children and adults.
  • Begin family faith traditions and holiday rituals.
  • Provide parenting classes and support groups for parents
  • Baby Dedications or baptism ceremonies.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.