Being real and sharing your life appropriately in a small group or as a small group leader takes on a whole different life when it comes to preschoolers.
I love preschoolers, the innocence, the excitement, and the wonder they have about everything. To sit and have a conversation with a four year old, to build the biggest block tower and then knock it down, or to rock a baby that just needs to be held, brings joy to my heart. I’ve found in both coaching and teaching preschoolers, consistently being there is a huge part of the equation. A couple of years ago, in one of the baby rooms at our church, there was a little girl going through separation anxiety, but when she saw this one sweet male volunteer, all was right in the world. When he wasn’t there, she noticed. The parents noticed. We all noticed.
And in a way, I think it is just as important for the parents as it is for the preschoolers for the small group leader to be there. I want to know that when I drop my children off at their rooms, someone they know and trust is going to be there. Not only that they are there, but that they take a genuine interest in my child and what is going on in their life (a loose tooth, a new sibling, grandparents in town, a birthday, a death, etc.). Just listen, preschoolers will tell you. And if they don’t say it, their body language will.
Speaking from experience, my two children are totally different in how they approach situations. My oldest needs to assess the situation before joining in, whereas my youngest tends to jump in with both feet. But each week, they both look for that familiar face—their small group leader.
There are other parts of the equation though. You can’t just show up. Your body may be helpful when it comes to the number of children you can allow in a room, but it is so much more than that. If you simply show up, you may be missing out on so much more! These babies, two year olds, pre-k’ers have so much to teach us and tell us if we just let them. Be ready to listen, sit quietly together, or just be silly with them. Sit on the floor and play with trucks and blocks, eat pretend food, or trace their hand with a crayon. Engage them. Tell them something about you that may relate to them.
I recently had the privilege of being a “summer sub” in a two-year-old classroom. I met a little boy that was having a rough time being away from his parents so I sat down with him and a few other kids and played with the trucks. I asked him about his shoes (that happened to have a character on them) and sang part of a song from that show. The crooked smile he gave me was priceless and I had a friend for the rest of the class!
Connecting authentically with your preschoolers is fun and easy. All it takes is some consistency and genuine interest. What are some ways you have made special connections with your few?