Question: If your kids get to choose the restaurant for dinner tonight, are they choosing it based on the freshness of the ingredients in the Cobb Salad, or do they choosing where to eat based on whether or not it has a play area?

Answer (In case you didn’t see this coming): The restaurant with the play area.

Kids have a different set of standards than boring adults. Bright colors, bold shapes, and interaction make up their definition of exciting.

We know that families with kids are more likely to come back to a church that their kids enjoy. Rarely will families say “Our kids didn’t enjoy themselves, but we’re going to make this our home church.” By helping kids enjoy their time at your church, you’re encouraging families to want to come back. So how can you create engaging environments for kids, whether you’re in your own building or a pop-up church?

3 Ways to Create Engaging Kids Environments

Fun Team Members:

Think of Disney or Chuck E Cheese – Kids love to interact with people who will give them attention. Forget the over-sized costume characters, but think of the waiter at the restaurant who offered your kids a high five or the really great dentist who wears a clown nose or shows kids a quick magic trick to break the ice.

Like Adults, kids want to be recognized, welcomed and given attention, kids love this too, but receive it in a different way.

Some practical ways this can work:

  • Have someone from your kids’ team at the front of your church to walk new visitors and their kids to their classrooms.
  • Classroom teachers can greet new kids at the door of their classroom and give them a high five.
  • Send a quick selfie video to the parent’s email address or phone number (you probably have them from the kids Check-in system) after church from that kid’s teacher. “Thanks for coming today, Jimmy and learning about God’s Love. I’ve got a seat saved for you next week when we’ll be learning about God’s Joy!”

 

Creative Signage:

Signage can help create an environment by adding colors, shapes, and themes that you may want to change from theme to theme, or don’t have the option to paint when you’re in a shared space like a movie theatre or high school.

Some practical ways this can work:

  • Consider using color-coded signs for kids who are too yougn to read. Orange signs (or words) point to one age group, blue signs to another and green signs to a third age group. At check-in, let the kids know which color they need to follow as they lead their family to their class.
  • Have signage that changes based on the theme. Remind your kids from the front door all the way to their class that your theme right now is fruits of the spirit.
  • Help first-time guests understand where their classrooms are located (wayfinding) so they can find their way to and from their class before and after service. Be clear in the name (ie. 4-5 year olds is easier to understand than Lion’s Pack or Junior Soldiers) and reserve creativity for your signage designs.

 

Interactive Elements:

Your environment can be colorful and inviting, but to create a truly memorable experience, go the extra mile, create interactive elements for kids to enjoy while they’re waiting for their parents to check them in, walking through the halls, or waiting to get into their class.

Some practical ways this can work:

  • Have footprints or lily-pads or animal paw prints on the floor that kids can follow to their class.
  • Have games, mazes or toys attached to the walls or sitting on tables near the check in station and outside of the classrooms.
  • Build a “kids-sized” door next to the regular doors.
  • Have a slide in your classroom doorways so the kids climb up and slide through the door into class
  • Use signage to create puzzles or “fun facts” for older kids to read on their way to class.

Using Fun Team Members, Creative Signage and Interactive elements, how will you create an engaging environment for your First-Time Kids’ Guests?

 

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