Attending a group activity for the first time can be intimidating — not only for the child, but for the parent or caregiver as well. I speak from experience, having done this many times since becoming a mom.
It can be especially intimidating to walk into a room where everyone else knows each other and has attended the activity before. This happens time and time again in our music classes, since many of our families attend sessions on a regular basis. The adults become friendly with each other, the children get along well, and we as instructors get to know everyone.
So when a new family comes to music for the first time, there are a few things we can do to help them feel just as welcome and part of the group as everyone else.
- Greet them at the door. A friendly face at the door can do wonders to ease those initial nerves. I like to introduce myself to both the child and caregiver and then show them around the studio.
- Help them get comfortable in the class room. Little things like showing them where they can put their stuff, grabbing their class materials for them, and helping them find a spot can go a long way in a new environment.
- Talk to the child by name before class begins. That way, other children and adults hear her name and can do the same. Also, this hopefully helps the child feel like a part of the group from the very beginning.
- Direct lots of smiles and encouragement towards the new family. They may be a bit self-conscious during that first class, so positive feedback can be reassuring and affirming.
- Encourage other children to share and interact with the new student. I have found that our “regulars” love to help new children play instruments, dance with them, and otherwise show them the ropes during class.
- Touch base after class. I always make sure to thank the new family for coming, let them know how happy I am to have them in class, and ask if they have any questions or concerns.
Hopefully doing all of the above helps to eliminate any nervous or intimidated feelings when a new family comes back the next week, and they become regulars, too! Any tips you would add to this list?