Starting Off Strong

The first day of club is like the first day of school: it’s absolutely essential to setting the tone for the year. In our online workshop for leaders earlier this month, we talked about the following tips for starting the year off strong in small groups. 

1. Set a positive group culture.

A few years ago, we created the following Crossroads club culture statement: 

Crossroads Kids Club is a place where we strive to create a fun, welcoming and respectful community.

This presents a picture of the kind of place we want club to be and feel like for everyone: kids and leaders. It helps to get buy in and ownership from your students at the beginning of the year. Share this culture statement with them and ask them, “What do you want small group to be like? How can you help make others feel welcome, respected, and ensure that we’re all having fun?”

2. Make it a priority to form healthy relationships.

Build time into your first several weeks to intentionally get to know your students. The curriculum and club structure are designed for you to do this during Small Group Session #1 or Middle School Chill time. Play icebreakers, get-to-know-you games, name games, or even something as simple as the question pack from the CKC Games Bag. Connect with the parents if possible too, and consider if there are appropriate ways for you to connect with students outside of the club time (Tip: think about school activities, and always communicate with the parents first!)

3. Communicate clear procedures and expectations.

Kids function best in structured environments with routine and consistency. The more predictable the routines, the more comfortable the kids feel and they are able to learn better.  Here are a few things to develop routines for: 

  • How you start and end small group time
  • How you handle group discussion
  • Prayer
  • Check in/check out
  • Transitioning to & from large group or games
  • Bathroom breaks

4. CommIT Time to discussing & Practicing Routines & Group Norms. 

Repetition is really important. Kids need time practicing too. For very young kids, you might even have them practice transitions and expected group behavior. On the first day of school, it’s not uncommon for teachers of young children to practice walking the class down the hall! It’s also important to talk with kids about why we follow certain routines & procedures. Lastly, it can help to build in short reminders throughout the year to keep everyone remembering that (e.g. repeat the culture statement or rules each week).

5. Always be prepared for club.

As a leader, YOU set the tone for your small group. If you are confident, enthusiastic & prepared, you help create a small group environment that kids will feel comfortable in and have fun. 

Join us for our next online leaders workshop:

“Raising the Fun Factor”

October 3rd (6:00-7:00 p.m.) OR October 4th (11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon).

Register at


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