I belong to you . . .
You belong to me.
Beyond lyrics to a Lumineers song, these two statements can sum up a great relationship within your small group. We understand the fact that everyone needs a place to belong; a group where they are known and welcome. There is something powerful in the sense of belonging. What cements this relationship for your little ones is that they know “why” they belong. The reason has to be more than they belong because they are three years old. Or, they belong because they are sitting at table number two or on the green rug. Preschoolers will grasp early that they belong because you love them for who they are — not where they are in a class chart. They belong because you know them and you are glad that they are there!
While it’s true that class structure will impact how a preschooler feels in your group, these 3 steps will help them know that beyond just belonging in the class, they belong to you.
- Make it audible.
They are your “few” so call them that. Let them hear it! Call them “my friends”, “my group” or “my kids”. Find opportunities to tell each child individually that you are glad they are yours:
“I’m so glad you are in my group.”
“I’m so glad we get to learn about Jesus together.”
- Make it “doable”.
Think of a fun “ritual” to do with your group each week. Make up a unique hand-shake-fist-bump-high-five that you do every time they arrive. Or come up with a special name for your small group like the Flying Ninjas or the Butterfly Princesses. You could even use the name for a team “circle” like sports teams often do. (“Hands stacked in the center, on 3; 1. . . 2. . . 3. . . Butterfly Princesses!”) Giving them a specific place to belong and make that place fun. This strengthens your relationship with your few, and that relationship gives even more credence to the words of faith that you are sharing with them during class time.
- Make it visible.
Though many preschoolers can’t yet read, many can recognize their own name when it is printed. Put their name under yours on a list. It doesn’t have to be a bulletin board project! You can list their names on a note on your phone. Or you can take a picture of your entire group. Show that to your kids each week and let them know that when you see that list or picture during the week you are praying for them! Text that picture to their parents and let them know that you are praying for them and their child every week!
Using all of these senses, helps your little ones know that they do belong to you and that you belong to them! Helping preschoolers know they truly do have a place to belong within your small group helps them begin to grasp that they also have a place they belong within the family of God. Enjoy the privilege of helping them see they belong.