One of the joys that God blesses me with every week is that I get to spend time with children who are growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. I get to watch them mature and change from the time they’re tiny babies up through the time they leave the Children’s Department and join the Youth Group. Then, when they’re teens, I get to welcome them back as volunteers in the early childhood department, ready to share their love of Jesus with the little ones. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to me to be able to watch this development as it unfolds, with each child as a unique individual, learning and growing and blossoming in his own time and in his own way, according to God’s plan.
Today we will focus on our elementary school-age kids – fourth and fifth graders – how they learn and especially, how they are developing spiritually.
One of the most important things to remember about this age group is that each child is in a different place, developmentally, than other kids their own age. Physically, a fourth grade girl might tower in height over a fifth grade boy. While many kids in this age group are
proficient readers, some still struggle with reading. Their individual strengths and talents are emerging. You may recognize the child who is a budding artist and the one who has a gift for music.
Fourth and fifth grade kids are becoming very conscious of themselves, where they fit into a group and how to do what is right. They begin to connect themselves and their actions with sin. They are beginning to develop a conscience and truly feel remorse for doing wrong. This is a time when kids become acutely aware of their need for a personal relationship with God. They recognize their need for a Savior.
Fourth and fifth graders want to know about the Bible and what God wants them to do. They ask deep questions about concepts like love, loyalty and faith. They are beginning to be able to consider moral questions in terms of motives and ethics.
Fourth and fifth graders are growing increasingly interested in and acceptant of people from different cultures. They show a genuine concern for people who are hungry, homeless or needy and they want to do something to help. They are also greatly influenced by their peers. Friends become very important at this age and may exert a strong influence on the child.
This is an age of increasing introspection. They look inwardly and begin wondering, at a more mature level, about making a commitment to Christ.
So, what do we, as adult leaders and parents do, to help guide these school-age kids? How can we best reach and teach them?
Be sensitive to their individual differences and help them build on their strengths and talents. If a child has an interest in music or drama, encourage them to become involved in children’s choir. If a child likes to write, encourage them to study the Bible and write stories that are inspired by their readings.
Be authentic. Kids this age are highly attuned to hypocrisy, so be your word and provide a solid role model for them. You need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Fourth and fifth graders see through and quickly lose respect for those they deem to be phonies.
Talk with them seriously about ethical dilemmas and how to resolve them. Encourage them to use Scripture to guide their decisions. Share examples from your own life to help children learn how to lead a moral, Christian life.
Find ways for kids to serve with their peers in projects that help others. Make plans now to sign up for Family Mission Week during Spring Break at First Baptist Rockport. This will give you and your kids an opportunity to serve others together, as a family.
Watch for opportunities to point out the contributions to society that are made by people from different cultures. Introduce your kids to music, art, prayers and worship that come from other cultures.
For more information about levels of biblical learning, check out the LifeWay website, www.lifeway.com.