In the first year of your match you are building your relationship with your Little and with their Guardian. It is new and exciting, and there is a learning curve for everyone as you navigate the different parts of your match.

PYD  – The 6Cs are new to you all and this can be overwhelming, but that’s alright! Talking about goals with Match Support, Guardian and Little will come more natural over time as you are just getting to know each other. Connection is the most important goal for all of you at the beginning. This will help you set the groundwork for trust and the other Cs to follow in a more natural, organic way in your match.

Safety/Setting Limits – The agency provides a list of safety guidelines before your Match Meeting and they can seem overwhelming or possibly not applicable to your match in the beginning. This is something that will become more familiar as you work with Match Support over the first year. We know being a Big might be the first experience working with a child, so setting limits for them might be new for you too. Talking openly about safety expectations with your Little and Guardian will help with this aspect of your relationship – striking that balance of Little seeing you as a friend, but also knowing it is important to adhere to your guidance on safety related matters.  It can also be an adjustment for parents to get used to a new person taking their child out.

Communication/Rapport ­ – As mentioned in the PYD sections, Connection is the first C we work on in your match, and part of that is working on Communication and building rapport with Little and with their Guardian. This includes getting to know each other’s communication styles and preferences and sharing yours with them. This helps with scheduling, planning outings, and talking about goals and safety. While at times it may be easier said than done, it is important to relax and be yourself. Being genuine and sharing with Little will help set the tone for them to be able to do the same.

Establishing Routines – In the first year it is important to try to create an outing and communication schedule that works for your match. This also helps with setting expectations for all parties involved with your match. For example, you could decide to meet with Guardian at the end of each outing to make a plan for the next outing date. Your match could also decide to do a virtual outing as a backup if in person plans ever have to be cancelled because of weather. Having these types of scenarios established helps things run smoother and can eliminate a lot of planning and rescheduling issues.

Common Match Challenges  – While all matches have their own unique challenges, some are more common in the first year. These include things like aligning schedules for outings, working on how you and the Guardian will best communicate, deciding who is paying for outings, and building rapport and trust within your match. These are things you will talk about in your Match Support call, but you may also check out our Navigating Challenges section for some quick tips on common match challenges