The start of the year is a great time to reactive not only yourself but your small group leaders. Reminding your entire preschool team of the value of leading small and how that’s possible in the context of your preschool environments will help to ensure you’re all on the same page as you invest in the lives of preschoolers.
1. BE PRESENT
Preschoolers thrive on continuity. You might have figured that out when a preschooler in your ministry put the death grip on mom, refusing to enter her room, because there was a substitute that morning. The best way to show a preschooler you care is to have a small group leader show up predictably. It’s hard to impart the 3 basic truths to a preschooler when all they’re thinking is, “STRANGER DANGER!” Encourage your small group leaders to move to a consistent role in serving.
2. CREATE A SAFE PLACE
Let’s be honest…deep conversations are an effort with a preschooler when all you can do is keep them from putting play-dough in their mouth. While you’re not going to talk theology for 15 minutes with a preschooler, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create an environment where you are guarding their hearts and listening to them. Small group leaders need to be approachable, good listeners (even if it means hearing about the ant in the parking lot for the 100th time!), and affirming in their responses. Before long they will earn the trust of a preschooler, and in between the story of the ant and eating the play-dough, a small group leader just might hear about how a preschooler is scared of the dark or how their sister makes fun of them and it makes them sad.
3. PARTNER WITH PARENTS
One of the best ways a small group leader can partner with a parent is simply through encouragement. Looking at a parent at pick up and saying, “Hey, Luke had a great day today. He listened well and participated throughout the morning,” can have such the positive effect on a parent. Small group leaders can be a supportive voice in a parent’s life, letting them know they’re doing a good job and that their preschooler really will be okay. Don’t discount the value of life-giving words!
4. MAKE IT PERSONAL
When I am spending consistent time with God, I am a better wife, mother, friend, and leader. I can’t pour into others what’s not in me. And trust me, unfortunately I’ve tried. Adults and kids can figure out when your words don’t match your actions. Our small group leaders need to be encouraged to invest in themselves spiritually and emotionally through relationships and time with God. Any leader has to be able to lead themselves before they can lead another (even the littlest of humans!).
5. MOVE THEM OUT
As kids get older, we need to help move them to the next phase in their childhood. A BIG transition time is when a preschooler moves onto elementary. This transition is a great time for your small group leaders of four and five-year-olds to link arms with the kindergarten small group leaders to make that move as easy as possible. Develop a plan to ease them into that transition and to their new small group leaders. After all, we’re on the same team! We want success for every child at every phase!
What are some ways you are challenging your small group leaders to lead small this year?