I strongly believe that it is important for our children to worship with us in the service. For our babies and toddlers, the nursery is a huge blessing to parents. Children learn a lot about the Christian faith by watching members of the other generations engage in worship. Using tools like coloring books for younger kids does not mean they aren't participating, many times they've heard everything said and may even answer out loud. I've also noticed that we, as parents, hold our kids to unreasonable expectations for their age and become frustrated or just give up. So, here are some helpful suggestions.
Babies, Toddlers, and Twos: If they're not screaming, you're doing great! Cheerio's, quiet toys and books are helpful.
Threes: Children should be encouraged to whisper and will not be able to sit on their bottoms the whole time. Parents may begin to cue their kids to bow their heads, put money in collection, and sing familiar songs. Snacks and coloring books are also helpful.
Fours: Children should know to whisper and sit in one spot, even though they may wiggle. They may begin to ask questions about the service. Use these teachable moments to quietly whisper the answer to the children so they may feel included. Fours/Fives may bring a children's picture Bible, a favorite cuddle toy or coloring pages.
Fives: Begin to expect these children to sit on their bottoms. They may still color, or, may use a worksheet that helps them learn Bible truths.
Kinder/1st: Help these children follow the printed worship order, sing familiar songs, and encourage participation by sitting near the front. Children are learning Bible skills and will enjoy looking up verses.
2nd/3rd: These children should make it to the sermon without entertainment and should be able to participate in the service. Help kids stay engaged by giving them specific worship theme words or questions to listen for until the sermon.
4th/5th: 4th/5th grade should be able to model good behavior to younger kids, participate in most aspects of the service and even listen to some or all of the sermon if they do not attend Worship 411. They may enjoy taking notes or listening for particular worship themes.
adapted from an email sent by Angelique Moses, Children's Minister, Grapevine Church of Christ