Children who enjoy being together look forward to more times together. That’s why it’s essential to create ways for children to get to know each other and to build relationships. However, it’s easy in children’s ministry to focus mainly on the learning. Children will be more likely to come back and learn when they have friends.
Do ice breakers and community-building activities. Every time you get together, do activities that help children learn each other’s names and also learn a little bit more about each other. You can find countless books on this topic, or visit http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/ice-breaker_games.htm.
Use names when you talk to children. When you use a child’s name, you’re not only making them feel welcome, but you’re also helping other children learn the child’s name as well. Instead of saying generic phrases, such as “Welcome” or “I’m happy to see you,” make your interactions personal, such as “Welcome Malcolm” or “I’m happy to see you, Carissa.”
Get to know the parents. Instead of knowing parents as “Jacob’s mom” or “Amy’s dad,” learn their first names. Not only give a class list to your teachers but also a list that includes the first and last names of the children’s parents as well. Parents feel more satisfied with a children’s ministry or education class when the teachers call them by name.
Ask questions. When children are doing quiet activities, ask them questions. Find out more about them. Ask them about their families, their pets, and what they love to do. This not only helps you get to know children more, but the other children also hear these conversations and take them in as well.
Keep notes. Some people are better at remembering names than others are. That’s okay. Encourage teachers, leaders, and volunteers to keep notes about individual children. Notes can help adults learn the names of children and more about them.
Have fun. Getting to know children can be a lot of fun. When you play getting-to-know you games, everyone has a good time and everyone learns the names of people around them.
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