Every child longs to belong.
From their house to their school, from the church to the ball field, every child wants to belong to a group, a tribe.
God designed us to be connected to each other. That need for belonging, security, and acceptance starts as a preschooler.
As leaders we understand this full well. We can express and identify our need for friends. We can discuss our circles of adult community with others. We can seek to be part of a group of people with the same beliefs, priorities and interests as us. We know the importance of belonging to a tribe.
Imagine if every preschooler that entered your ministry felt like they belonged to the tribe. Imagine if they felt accepted, known and welcomed every time they entered your class.
Kids need tribes—community, groups, circles, the feeling of belonging to a group that loves and understands who you really are. And we have to be intentional about how we create that for them inside of our groups. Try creating your tribe with traditions, a meal, and a seat.
Keep a Tradition
There needs to be traditions within your group that your few will almost expect to happen.
Maybe it’s the time, the way, or where you all pray together.
Maybe it’s phrases or words you use to welcome or transition from one activity to another.
Maybe it’s the schedule of the morning. Each Sunday looks the same.
What are some traditions you can create inside your class?
These traditions will make your few feel like a tribe.
Eat a Meal
Food plays an incredible role in our lives. And if you have ever been in a preschool classroom Goldfish, in particular, plays a huge role.
Sitting with your few around a table while they snack on goldfish can have a greater impact that you could imagine. Don’t simply hand out the goldfish and stand around watching them eat.
Sit with them and ‘eat a meal’ with them. When you place food in front of them they will sit and listen to you better.
Maybe this is when you talk about the Bible story for the day and how it applies to their lives.
Maybe this is when you pray together. Maybe this is when you listen to what is going on in their lives. There is something amazing that happens when you gather around a table and share a meal together…even if it’s goldfish.
Find a Seat
Week after week preschoolers will enter your classroom who are not comfortable being there. As a small group leader it is your job to find each child a seat within the room.
No, not a physical seat, although that might be the case.
But, a place where they feel love and belonging, not only by the small group leaders, but also the other children.
Have a group of children that helps greet at the door.
Ask certain children to go and welcome the new child in the classroom. Connect a child to a group of peers by sitting down to include her in the game.
When we find those seats for preschoolers they will want to come back. Connecting them to other kids in the classroom is a huge step in helping them feel included in the tribe.
When we keep traditions, share a meal, and find our preschoolers a seat, over time, we create a tribe that matters.
When we do these things they will feel accepted, known and welcomed.
Tribes, over time, matter.