There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Kindergarten is a wonderful, exciting time of life. Five-year-olds are learning and growing at such a rapid pace in all areas of development – physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Today we will take a look at what we can expect kindergartners to do and learn, especially in the areas of Biblical learning.
First and foremost, however, we must remember that child development is a highly individualized matter. For example, some children start kindergarten knowing a lot about letters and sounds and their relationships to words, while others don’t recognize very many letters yet and don’t yet understand how squiggles and marks on a page are related to language. So be aware of your child’s own level of development and be patient as you guide him along the pathway of learning.
One of the very best ways to help kindergartners learn about the Bible is to read, read, read! We talked last week about making sure you have some really good Bible story books in your home or preschool classroom. That remains important in kindergarten. It is also important at this level to have a good children’s Bible. The real thing – not just a book of Bible stories.
Kindergartners are beginning to be able to understand that the Bible is God’s own word that was written by people. They are beginning to understand that everything in the Bible is true. So, when you’re telling your child a Bible story or reading one from a Bible story book, be sure to reference the Bible itself. Take it out and show your child where the words of the story you’re sharing are written.
Kindergartners are growing physically, developing both their large and small muscles. As they play outside, throwing and kicking balls, climbing and swinging and running and jumping, take the opportunity to help them connect their growing bodies to God’s plan for them. Comment on things they’re especially good at, whether it is using scissors, drawing or running fast and teach them that people are special because God made them. Thank God for giving them healthy, strong bodies and helping them grow. As you casually talk about God in their lives through everyday conversations, kindergartners will begin to make deeper connections with Him.
Kindergarten is an important time for social and emotional development. Kids at this stage have moved past the totally egocentric baby and toddler stage and are able to recognize the needs, wants and feelings of others. This is not to say that there won’t be any conflicts when kids this age play together. In fact, conflict is inevitable. But social conflicts are actually wonderful and necessary learning opportunities to be welcomed and embraced. Kindergartners can learn how to talk through their social issues and solve problems peacefully.
Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to solve their problems for them. “Give that back”, “Go to time out” or “Share” are not helpful things for adults to say to kindergartners when they’re having social problems. All that does is teach them to be helpless and dependent on adults to think for them.
Instead, serve as a mediator. Help each child talk and listen to one another with respect and kindness.
Encourage each child engaged in the conflict to offer suggestions for ways to solve the problem. When they’ve come up with a solution (and they will, given enough time and patience), comment on the good job they did in working things out. This is a great time to tell them that Jesus taught us that God wants us to be kind to one another.
Never force an apology, as that carries with it the risk of teaching kids to deny their true feelings and lie to get out of trouble. But if a child is feeling genuinely sorry for something he did, then accept that apology graciously, help the other child accept the apology and move forward. When the storm has passed, talk with the kids about how wonderful it is that Jesus forgives us when we do wrong and we can forgive each other, as well.
Intellectual development is flourishing at this age, including beginning to make sense of reading, writing and other academic skills. As you read and discuss Bible stories, ask questions to make sure that comprehension is there. Your kindergartner can grasp concepts such as God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, that God sent Jesus to earth as a real person, that Jesus’ birth was predicted in the Old Testament and many other Bible facts.
For a detailed list of the Levels of Biblical Learning, visit www.lifeway.com or come chat with me. I would love to talk with you more about how to help your kindergartner learn, grow and develop in relationship with Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior!