There are three drives that are hardwired in every kid:
If you think about those drives as dials you turn to help a kid connect with God, then what if you turn those dials to different volumes for different phases? It’s just like finding the right mix for a love song. Wonder is like the melody. Discovery is the harmony. Passion is the rhythm. When you get the mix just right, something magical happens; and the song connects with the heart of the listener.
Knowing what you now know about the phases, which dial do you think you should turn up the loudest for an elementary-age child? You will turn all three dials at every phase, but the volumes may change in order to create the right mix. Kids who think like scientists love stories—especially those that inspire them to win at everyday life. They relate to a God who heals the sick, conquers evil, explains mysteries, performs miracles, overcomes death, and teaches them how to win at life. When you engage their interests, you help a kid trust God’s character and experience God’s family.
The way God proved His love for humanity through time is similar to the way a child grows up and relates to God throughout the phases. It’s as if there is a pattern for spiritual growth working throughout the events of history the same way it works throughout our lives. Your goal is to show up in the lives of kids and teenagers, over time, to love them and help them mature in their ability to relate to God at every phase. The best way to help a kid mature in their relationship with God at every phase is to help them relate to God in their present phase.
3 Ideas to Help Elementary Schoolers Relate to God
Tell one story.
This is the age for story. Kids know the difference between history and fiction–and they obsess about what is true. They still have enough wonder to be carried away with the plot, but they are ready to discover what the story means practically and personally. Just like a scientist studies one idea at a time, kids master individual concepts at this phase. Give kids one story and connect it with one concrete idea.
Use real illustrations.
Scientists like concrete evidence. They rely on what they can observe. In the same way, a kid understands what is familiar to their world. Avoid abstract metaphors. When you ask a concrete-thinking child, “Do you want Jesus to come live in your heart?” expect questions like, “Where does He sleep in there?” Use visual illustrations to help kids relate to God, and look for ways to connect your illustrations to what they experience every day.
Make it fun.
No one knows how to party like a scientist. Okay, maybe this is where the analogy breaks down. But kids do love to have fun. Fun may look different for different kids. Engage their interests by adding variety to your program. Play games with movement. Use maps and puzzles. Give them opportunities to read and write. Go outside when you can–or bring the outside into your space. Sing and dance together. You only have a limited amount of time together, so make it fun enough to remember.
When it comes to leading the next generation, spiritual growth means helping kids mature in their ability to relate to God. In order to grow up and know God at every phase, kids need adults to help them rediscover how to relate to God in every phase. You create a unique mix of wonder, discovery, and passion for each phase. Remember that every kid will always need all three—just maybe at different volumes.
This content was contributed by Phase. Discover all the resources available for your elementary schooler in the Phase store.