Monday, August 29, 2011

Making Visitors Feel Welcome

When you have visitors, take a few minutes to talk to each child’s parent. Find out if he has any special needs or allergies. Here's a registration form you can copy and use with your Bible club program. Click on the card image below to download and print the page of cards. Cut the cards apart and give them to parents when they register their children.

The card contains a place to record emergency information and has a section to list allergies and other medical conditions your students may have. For any child with allergies, create a special, brightly colored name badge with the allergies listed so all leaders and helpers are aware of the allergies and don’t inadvertently give the child something that might cause an allergic reaction.

Click on the image above for a larger view.
Hold the child’s hand when it’s time for the parent to leave. Wave and say, "Goodbye, [Mom], We’ll see you soon!" Let the child join the others to play or offer to share a game or puzzle with him or her.

Have the children gather around. Say, "We have a new friend with us today! Let’s introduce ourselves. Tell your name and something interesting about yourself, like a hobby or a funny thing about you. Then say, "God loves me!" Instruct the children to introduce themselves. Have each one tell something about himself, such as his favorite toy or activity. Have the children end their introductions by saying, “God loves me!”

Ask the visitor if he would like to introduce himself as the other children have done. (Do not push a shy child into talking in front of the class.) Say, "We are happy to have [Brandon] with us! God loves [Brandon], and so do we!" Be sure to include the child in each activity. You may want to give the new child a partner to help explain the class procedures. The helper can show the child where to find the bathroom, crayons, etc.

When it is time to dismiss say, I am glad you came, [Brandon]. I hope you will come back soon and learn about God with us! Remember, God loves you, and so do we!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Helping a Shy Child Gain Confidence

If you have a problem with a chronically solitary child—a child who will not join in with the group or simply stands alone in a corner of the classroom—you can try these methods: 

  1. Give the shy or lonely child access to an attractive activity with the hope of drawing other children to interact with him. 
  2. Try to interest the child in a cooperative activity such as putting together a puzzle, playing a game, or block building, with you as his partner. 
  3. After playing with the child yourself, draw another child over and say, [Chris] and I are having fun playing together. [Caleb], why don't you play with [Chris] now.

Try to include the child or have other students personally invite the child to take part in group activities.  Give the shy child a specific job or activity to do such as handing out activity sheets, giving each person a pencil, or passing out snacks.

Greet the shy child at the door to your classroom and welcome him inside. Help him say goodbye to his parents. Then lead him over to join another child or a small group of children so he doesn't feel overwhelmed by the large group.

The following week, have another child or two greet the shy child at the door and invite him to join a smaller group of children. Encourage the child to become engaged in the small group activity.

From preschool through elementary and up to middle school and beyond, shy children can be reluctant to join the group or to experience new activities. Kind encouragement seems to work best with these children. Welcoming adults and caring peers can go a long way to making shy children feel supported and loved as they hesitantly enter new situations.

Galatians 5:13 is a good reminder of how we should treat all children who enter our programs: "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather,serve one another in love."