Welcoming 4-year-olds to your unit

Expanding the Rainbows offer to four-year-olds

Since October 2021, four-year-olds have started to join Rainbows in some areas of the UK.

For more than 30 years, Rainbow units in Ulster have been taking in four-year-olds, and now other units in the rest of the UK and BGO have started to take in four-year-olds.

Whether you're a leader getting ready to welcome four-year-olds to your unit, or not certain whether you're going to take in four-year-olds, we've put together some tools to help them settle in. 

Support for leaders

The Rainbows programme is full of exciting activities to help girls learn, find their voice and gain confidence. 

As the youngest members of Girlguiding, four-year-olds might need some extra help to have a go at our programme activities and develop new skills. There are lots of activities in the programme that can help with this. We've also got ideas that are suitable for even the youngest Rainbow.

Like any new member, they might take some time to gain an understanding of how they should act at meetings. It might be useful to use our three-week programme plan with your unit to help everyone understand how meetings work and how to get the most out of them.  

We’ve got examples of units in Ulster who have four-year-olds in their units and ways they adapt the programme to suit all ages too.

There are lots of things to think about when a place in your unit to a new member, including time they’ve spent on the waiting list and their age. Have an approach that’s fair and consistent and adapt your current ways of offering spaces to four-year-olds. The most important thing is that we’re inclusive and accessible for all ages and abilities and that we are doing our best to offer guiding to as many girls as possible. 

Support for parents

Rainbows is all about developing self-confidence, building friendships, learning new things, and having fun. Members get their hands dirty with arts and crafts, get in touch with nature and play games. It's all about learning by doing. 

Rainbows is for all girls aged four to seven. It follows a diverse and engaging programme where girls can take part in lots of different activities with girls their own age. Our fantastic volunteers will be there to support them right from the start. And because our activities are designed to be for all girls, there’s a place for your daughter whatever she needs. 

Each unit is run by a team of fantastic volunteers and helpers. Units are run by leaders who develop, organise and lead all the activities and adventures. They’ll be the people you speak with when you register your child and be your point of contact while they’re at Rainbows. 

Units normally meet once a week during term times. Games and activities form most of the session and can be about anything from recycling to storytelling. They're also designed to help members develop skills and try new things like camping, leadership and first aid. All of the activities are based around our programme. 

Every child develops at their own pace. Our vision is an equal world where all girls can make a positive difference, be happy, safe and fulfil their potential. Being inclusive is a core value at Girlguiding. When your child joins, we want them to be as ready as possible, so they can enjoy everything Rainbows has to offer  

There might be several things you might like to chat about with your leader before deciding if now’s the best time for your child to join Rainbows.  

  • Time of the day: Most meetings happen after school. Your child might have lots of energy or not much at all. You might be in an area that has lots of units meeting at different times and on different days, so you can choose a unit that suits you best.  
  • Toilets: Sometimes, units meet in places without child sized toilets. Their leader should already have systems in place to stop this being a problem but if your child might need a helping hand going to the toilet, have a chat with their leader.  
  • New places: Leaders often hold taster sessions so new members get a taste of what Rainbows is all about and they can feel happy in their new surroundings.  
  • People: There’s lots of new people to meet at Rainbows. Speak to their leader your child might need a bit of extra help settling in.  
  • New skills: Rainbows take part in lots of different activities during meetings. These can include using scissors, sitting down and concentrating and following instructions. If your child might need extra help, speak to their leader. Reasonable adjustments can be made to help them have the best time.

Being a Rainbow is all about trying new things. Through taking part in a range of different activities with girls their own age, Rainbows develop confidence and make lots of new friends. Rainbows are supported by a group of trained, inspirational leaders to explore, challenge themselves and have fun. 

We’ve built our programme around six themes that offer girls a broad range of experiences: 

  • Know Myself- Girls explore emotions and learn about themselves. They’ll look at what they enjoy, build confidence and discover how feelings affect behaviour. 
  • Express Myself- Girls develop their creativity in all sorts of ways. They’ll make up stories and create inventions to solve problems and start thinking laterally and teaching creative skills to friends. 
  • Be Well- Girls learn how to stay healthy and how to help others when they’re hurt. 
  • Have Adventures- Girls have the chance to overcome fears, try new activities and learn survival skills. Getting outside and having adventures has always been an important part of guiding. 
  • Take Action- Girls build skills to make a positive difference, whether in their community, the wider world or with the people they know. 
  • Skills For My Future- Girls investigate what they might like to do in the future and how they can grow their life skills. 

There are lots of ways you can support us and help empower girls.  

  • Help out on a parent rota: By offering a helping hand at a few meetings per year, you can support your child’s leaders and experience the fun of guiding. 
  • Help behind the scenes: You could get involved with anything from planning events and camps to managing finances and helping with fundraising. 
  • Share a specific skill: Whatever you're great at, from football coaching to yoga teaching, graphic design to engineering, you could run sessions with local groups and inspire girls to try something new. 
  • Volunteer at unit meetings: Help out more regularly and become a unit helper or leader. 

To find out more, talk to your local leader or register online.