As a small group leader, when you meet with your few, when you show up for them consistently and randomly, you’re impacting the future faith of an entire generation.
If you’re like many users of our Compact material, it feels like you have an entire generation at small group every week! To help small group leaders engage all the kids in their unique circles, check out our top 5 Multi-Age Small Group Tips!
Pair older and younger kids within the group. For activities that involve reading or writing, and other collaborative activities, pair up older and younger kids in your group. Give each a specific responsibility: the younger kid in each pair is in charge of drawing, and the older is the reader; one decides where to build the tower and the other decides how tall it will be, etc.
Aim for the older half of the group. When you’re leading conversations, explaining an activity, or picking out a cool prize, think of what will engage the oldest kids of your group. It’s tempting to focus on the youngest kids to make sure they don’t get lost, but if you keep the interest of your oldest kids, the younger ones will naturally want to be included. You can pause once you have the group’s attention to add any additional comments that will help your younger kids understand concepts or directions. Or, like in the idea above, ask a “big kid” to explain it to them!
Assign Jobs Weekly or Monthly. Each week or month, assign jobs or roles within your small group: someone to pass out the Activity Sheets, markers, or other supplies; a line leader to and from large group; someone who carries any bags or clipboards your church uses; someone to open or close in prayer, etc. These roles can be carried out by any age level and they give kids a sense of belonging and ownership within the group.
Have a Sharing Turtle! A stuffed animal, plastic utensil, or even a bandana can be used as a tool to help kids listen to each other and wait their turns to speak. This is a skill that might be lacking in younger members, or older kids might be tempted to talk over a younger kid because they know the answer already. Whoever is holding the “sharing turtle” is the only one who may speak. The Small Group Leader is the Ultimate Arbiter of the Turtle and allots sharing time based on the activity.
Find Non-Competitive Bonding Activities. With such a diverse age group, you’re bound to have many levels of physical and emotional skills represented, so keep that in mind when you’re planning a party or outing. Score-based games are less fun for everyone than themed free play get-togethers. Creative activities are always a good idea: cookie decorating, T-shirt stamping, or a sticker mosaic are collaborative, non-competitive party classics!
These are just some ideas for how to make your multi-age small group rock!