A few weeks ago, I was at a five-day conference, working with the children aged six months to 3 years old. As the parents were in sessions, my colleagues and I would spend time with the six or so children, finding activities and games for them to play throughout the day and evening. By the fourth day, the children had grown accustomed to the room and toys, and in order to keep things fresh, I began thinking of new games for us to play together.
My experience with children was largely just with elementary-aged kids, which are more developmentally advanced than the toddlers, and so I wasn’t quite sure where the children would be in regards to what games they could play. I quickly learned a difference between the two age groups after gathering them together for a round of the classic game, Duck-Duck-Goose.
I got some blank stares while explaining the rules to the three-year-olds and quickly decided to demonstrate instead of just tell. After showing them a couple of examples, I realized that even demonstrating did not connect the dots, as one three-year-old kind of patted a couple of heads and then began running circles, around and around, as quickly as he could.
“Okay,” I said to them and to myself. “Back to blocks.”
Kids’ ability and our expectations
Perhaps at some point you have encountered a moment where your expectations of kids’ ability was different than what was actually the case. Maybe you chose an activity that was too easy or a game that was just too hard (whoops). The consequences might not be as obvious, but choosing music that does not match a child’s developmental abilities prevents them from really understanding what they are singing, though they might be able to recite the words.
Maybe you’ve had the common experience of hearing a kid sing a song with inappropriate words and upon asking them what the song means, they reply that they really don’t know–they just like it.
The same scenario can occur when you are seeking to teach kids songs with words you do want them to take to heart, such as songs about Jesus or lessons from the Bible. Reciting the words is different from understanding, and knowing where the kids you care about are in terms of mental development can go a long ways in discipling them on their level.
It can be hard to keep track of each age group, so I created a quick reference guide for you to download and use as you plan lessons and music for Sunday School or just hanging at home. It includes key characteristics of each age group, so you can tailor your lessons to speak right to where the kids are.
Download the free child development quick-reference guide here: KidTunz_Quick_Reference
Have you ever planned a lesson that just didn’t hit home with the kids you were teaching? How did you respond?
Not sure where to go from here? We created albums specific to each age group to get you started!