I’m sure that one “win” in your church is for new attendees to feel welcome and want to come back. We go to extra lengths to make sure that visitors are well taken care of. Just as that is important for first-time adults, it is also important for the smallest of visitors—the preschooler. We want a preschooler’s first time in our ministry to be a fun, exciting, and welcoming experience, especially in their small group. It may seem like a daunting task to make sure that the new child feels welcome in his or her small group. But rest assured, it can be an easy transition.
Start with paying that child extra attention the minute he or she arrives. Preschoolers who are used to coming will usually run into the classroom, start playing, and/or talking with one another. A new child may tend to be more cautious. Once his or her parents leave, I like to keep the new child near me and ask him or her a few basic questions. Then I try to introduce him/her to one of the other kids who I know will be friendly and inviting, preferably one who would be in their circle for small group time.
I also try to make sure the new child knows what will happen. Before we sit in a circle to have our small group, I explain to the child what a small group is and what we will be doing. I then have him/her sit next to me so it is easier for me to lean over and explain something to that child during small group time.
The truth is, at such a young age, preschoolers don’t have many preconceived ideas of what their class or small group will look like. Most of them don’t even know what a small group is, and since they are so young, most of their interaction with each other (if not all) will be solely on Sunday mornings. So let making sure that the new children feel included, accepted (by the other kids but also by the teachers), and well informed of what is going to happen be your main mission.
If you do those three things, you should see your newcomer transition easily into his or her small group.