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A female room leader welcoming a preschool girl to class.
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6 Ways to Welcome Preschoolers to Church Every Single Week

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment what happens when you welcome your preschoolers each week. What comes to mind—a calm and pleasant exchange, a rushed flurry of activity, or does it depend on the week (or the child)? During this drop-off time, you have a unique opportunity to show what’s been called the “ministry of the front door.” Consider what you can do and say in those initial moments (which sometimes are literally seconds) when children and their caregivers approach your space and then separate.

6 Ways to Welcome Preschoolers to Church Every Single Week

1. Design the welcoming space with predictability and novelty.

Preschoolers crave routines and structure so they know what the expectations and boundaries are, whether for physical space or behavior. They also enjoy surprises and love to learn new things. Try an 80/20 approach where most of the entrance experience is the same from week to week—signs, check-in area, name tag location, and the person who greets them. Delight them with a small surprise by placing a stuffed animal or potted plant near the name tags or wearing an interesting piece of jewelry or clothing. (Usually the day’s lesson can give you some cues for what to choose.)

2. Develop welcoming rituals, and stick with them.

A ritual should be short, easy-to-memorize, and faith-based. You can greet children by name (“Good morning, Malita!”), direct them to the name tags, ask parents to check in their child, and then say a Bible verse, like “This is the day that the Lord has made.”

3. Plan what preschoolers need to do, and teach them how to do it.

Spend class time for a few weeks walking through your opening moments with children. Show them the check-in spot and the name tag place. Make sure preschoolers know what they’re supposed to do afterward—do they join others in a circle on the floor or gather at a table? By practicing these steps, you help give children confidence that they’re big kids who belong in your children’s ministry.

4. Greet preschoolers by name.

Names are so important. Learning a child’s name shows that you care for the child and want to include him or her. Use name tags, ask caregivers if you can take pictures, or jot notes so you remember who’s who. (This is especially important if you have identical twins or other multiples in your group.)

5. Notice something about each preschooler.

The time may feel rushed, but taking time to pay attention to each child and comment on something helps convey the message of “I see you.” Clothing is a start (“Look at your green shirt—it’s the same color as grass!” or “Those shoes look like they help you run fast!”), but the more you learn about children’s interests and activities, the deeper you can go with your welcoming words.

6. Plan for new children.

Jesus taught us about the importance of welcoming the stranger. Ensure you have a process for greeting a child who’s new to your program. Share your name, assure parents of what you’ll be doing and when pick-up time is, and help the child make social connections right away.

The moments of welcome may be few, but giving them your full attention helps you make sure that your preschoolers get off to a great start every time.

Dawn Rundman is the director of development for the congregational resource team at 1517 Media. Dawn lives in Minnesota with her husband/prom date, Jonathan, and their two children, Paavo and Svea.

Looking for more preschool ideas? Check out these posts!

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One thought on “6 Ways to Welcome Preschoolers to Church Every Single Week

  1. Frances Husson

    This is awesome tips, I will start using them. We are able to grow together.

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