As you say good-bye to some children, you will be saying hello to others.
Or you may be welcoming all the children back after a long summer holiday.
Feeling welcome is important to children. It puts them at ease and helps
them adjust more easily to their surroundings.
Think back to a time when you felt especially welcome as a child. What
were some of the things that made you feel that way?
One way to make children feel that they belong is to learn their names
quickly. Help them, too, to learn each others names. Names are special to
each of us. Having someone say "Hi, Jack," or "Hello,
Susan," when you walk through the door sends a strong message that
The physical environment also sends messages to children. A brightly
colored bulletin board filled with interesting things says, "Were
glad you're here!" Giving each child his own personal space or
"cubby" and allowing the child to make a special name tag for it
says, "You're special." Asking children about their favorite
books and putting some of those books in the book corner the next day
tells children, "People here will listen to you."
A third way to make children feel welcome is to find some time to talk to
each child individually. Find out how many brothers and sisters they have,
if they have any pets, what they like to do, and what's going on at home
or in their neighborhoods. This tells children that you care about them as
Another way to welcome school-age children is to include them in decision
making. This tells children that their ideas are important. Until you know
the children well, it will be easier if you provide simple choices. For
example, you could present two activities or two possible snacks for next
week and allow them to vote on which one they want. This method works
especially well with younger children who may have difficulty thinking up
ideas on their own or deciding among many options. As you get to know the
children better and they become more knowledgeable about the child care
setting, you can offer them even more responsibility.
Feeling welcome is important to all of us. When you let children know in
many different ways that they belong, you are building a foundation of
trust and mutual respect.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care -
NNCC. Todd, C. M. (1992). Welcoming children. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.), *School-age
connections*, 1(6), p. 3. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois
Cooperative Extension Service.