Youth say it's meaningful when adults say "hi" and use their names. Kids identify adults who meet and greet as the ones who care about them personally and motivate them to do their best.
Take a look at these five meet and greet strategies, adapted from Carol Miller Lieber's book:
- Learn names quickly. Have each young person say her or his name upon arrival.
- Learn more about the youth. Have kids share fun facts about themselves when entering the room.
- Make personal connections. Shake hands, say "hello" along with using youth names, and
- ask or comment about something specific from the school day or outside of school – "Hi, Selena. What happened with your soccer game last night?"
- ask or comment about something that the young person has talked to you about before – "Hey, Katrina. How was the movie you were looking forward to seeing?"
- Find out kids' moods to help guide the day. Display playing cards, one to 10 of each suit. As youth come in, say "hello" and ask them to pick a card—ten (ready, focused, feeling good) to one (tired, grumpy). When settled, ask youth to hold up their numbers to reflect how they are feeling.
- Learn more about youth expectations during the greeting. Post an "Are you ready?" sign on the door. As students arrive, greet them by name and ask them to use adhesive notes to share one thing they are looking forward to during your time together that day.
Greet children daily—and watch the relationships grow!
Written by Heidi Ham, Vice President of Programs and Strategy for the National AfterSchool Association.