The Place.—The place of meeting must fulfill certain conditions to give proper nurture.
Because of the restlessness of these years, it ought to afford opportunity for physical movement. Even if a separate room is not available, screens or curtains should make it possible for the children to change their position frequently. The separation will also remove the temptation for curiosity to obtain satisfaction through roving eyes. The place should provide comfortable seating arrangements, for impressions carried within from strained muscles and tired limbs are far stronger than from ideas that the teacher gives, and these will consequently receive the attention.
But it is not sufficient to plan for seclusion and comfort. Nurture thinks beyond and deeper than this. The child is gaining his first impressions of religious things during these years, and his ideas will be derived from what his senses give him. There is no way to give him the thought of the beauty of holiness, and the joy that the religion of Jesus Christ brings, except to make every thing associated with it as glad and beautiful as may be. Choice pictures, flowers, sunshine, order, all mysteriously transmit their beauty to the child’s thought of God. The more attractive the visible things, the more magnetic the charm of the invisible. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.”
The Equipment.—The equipment is not to be a heterogeneous collection of things, and yet the child must be taught through his senses. A Bible which can be kept before the children and reverently handled, to teach reverence by suggestion, is of first importance. Little chairs, or an equally comfortable substitute, a blackboard and an instrument, if possible, will give good working capital.
Since taste is forming at this time and every thing has an influence in determining its direction, the beautiful pictures in black and white are gaining favor through their artistic execution and subdued coloring. To this equipment may be added special objects designed to make the facts of special lessons clearer—the sand table occasionally, or models. Thoughtful teachers are more and more convinced that while Kindergarten principles should obtain, the Kindergarten should not be moved bodily into the Sunday School. Values must be balanced, and over against the reasons which might be given for bringing in all the equipment of the week-day environment, there is this great fact:—the child is to be taught that religion is the supreme thing in the world, and he can learn it only by differentiating it in a tangible way from other things. This means that the methods, music, material and beauty associated with it ought to make it distinctive, and more attractive than any of the week-day surroundings.
After he learns that it is the chief thing in the world, he can learn how to bring it down to the common things of life without sacrificing its supremacy, instead of dragging the every-dayness into it.