“Where are you staying tonight?” That’s not an odd question to ask some kids as they board the van for rides home after Kids Club. Many kids divide their time between custodial and non-custodial parents’ homes, as well as relatives’ and babysitters’ when parents work. For this reason we try hard to create a very special at-home feeling for each child at Club. It starts by always welcoming a child by name and giving each person a moment of directed attention.
Daily, we try to be aware of the room’s ambiance as the children enter. During the cold months we sometimes had hot chocolate steaming as kids trudged in to shed boots and coats. Children love the aroma of something good in the oven. “That smells like baked spaghetti,” one girl recently said, “and I hope it is, ‘cause that’s my favorite.” Knowing someone’s likes and dislikes is part of valuing each individual. Letting kids make pudding, experiment with baking soda volcanoes, or build tents with tablecloths are the kinds of homemade fun we can facilitate even when they are not in their own houses. Some days children come in very weary. We try to be sensitive to this need, too, by designating a place where they can curl up with a book and rest. Every day we want NETwork to really feel like home to our precious Kids Club family.