Four-year-olds bring such enthusiasm and creativity to a meeting

Hear from volunteers who have welcomed four-year-olds Rainbows

01 March 2022

Since October there’s been more than 1,580 four-year-olds joining Rainbow units across the county.

A big thank you to all the early adopters who’ve made this happen. We spoke to some of them to find out how they’re settling them into their unit and how they’ve been adapting the programme.

Why did you choose to take in four-year-olds?

There were lots of different reasons for taking in four-year-olds. In Wendy’s Rainbow unit, there were younger siblings of girls who were wanted to join. She says: ‘We had girls who had friends at school who were members and couldn’t join until they turned five. It was a shame they were held back.’

Two four-year-olds have joined so far.

Sam’s unit numbers were low. She works in early years so has experience of four-year-olds.

‘They are not much different to a five-year-old so I thought why not! Also, it gives opportunities for those younger reception children to join with their friends rather than wait another year’.

Her unit has three four-year-olds.

Have you needed to adapt the programme?

Vicky didn’t adapt the programme as much as she expected. Because five-to-seven-year-olds have a range of abilities it wasn’t any different to adapting the programme for their needs. By explaining activities in a way young girls could understand, like breaking down the activity step by step, preparing the materials, showing girls what to do and helping with scissors meant that the four-year-olds were included without changing activities. She also found that by picking the first unit meeting activities carefully helped, as well as using activities that the leaders had run before.

Wendy says: ‘We haven’t adapted the programme at all so far. As they are at school, they adapt the same as the girls they joined with who are five-years-old. Sometimes they need a little help with writing, but I find this with all the Rainbows at times.’

‘Sometimes we’ve had to explain an activity differently, and if they have to write anything we let them draw their responses but that’s no different to what we would do for some five-year-olds that struggle with writing,’ says Sam. ‘We pick the shorter unit meetings activities as generally 4-year-olds only have about 10-15 minute attention span before they stop paying full attention.’

How easy is it to include four-year-olds?

Vicky says that ‘they just fit right in’.

‘We didn't really do anything different,’ she says. ‘Our Rainbow, who is nursery, has just completed her drawing badge and you can tell she put in a lot of effort.’

Wendy ‘found it really easy as using GO helps with the admin side of things really well’, adding ’we did make a unit decision to take only four-year-olds who’ve already started school which I think is making it so easy for us’.

Sam found including four-year-olds ‘super easy’.

‘Don’t treat them differently to any of the other girls, just be a little more patient with them,’ she adds. ‘A good way to settle them in to begin with is give them an older "buddy" to show them what to do.’

Penny’s Rainbow unit assigned a young leader to help her four-year-old Rainbows and ‘to keep an eye on them and give extra help for reading, writing and cutting out.’

What advice would you give people who haven’t taken in four-year-old Rainbows yet?

Try it and see what works for your unit especially if you have the space, the volunteers and no waiting list like we did. It helps to grow your unit and lets girls join with their friends together. It was so difficult saying you can’t join but your best friend can as she’s five. - Wendy

Just try it. - Vickey

Why not? Four-year-olds aren't big and scary, and they aren't that much different to five-year-olds. They bring such enthusiasm, energy and creativity to a meeting, you may be surprised by how much you learn from them! - Sam

Treat them as any other new Rainbow. Don't over think things. - Penny 

And the Welcoming 4-year-olds to your unit webpage has lots of tools to help you settle your youngest members in.