Understanding the developmental characteristics of children at different ages is an important component of effective teaching. Here are six things to keep in mind about 6 year olds:
1. Six year-olds are beginning to understand the flow of time.
Sixes have a newly developing awareness that events progress from beginning to middle to end. It is the perfect age to begin teaching the Bible in chronological order. Giving them a chronological overview of the Old Testament helps first graders understand that the Bible is not simply a collection of stories told like Aesop’s fables, but is one whole meaningful story in itself.
2. Six year-olds can distinguish between fantasy and reality.
Unlike preschool children who confuse fantasy and reality, six year olds can separate what’s real and what’s pretend. While they still enjoy pretend stories, they enjoy real-life themes as well. They are fascinated by the amazing and miraculous. You can take advantage of this interest by emphasizing the amazing and miraculous real-life attributes and deeds of God as told in the Bible.
3. Six year-olds want to have friends and to be active and productive.
Six year olds need to continue to have a variety of hands-on experiences to help them learn and remember. They enjoy games and artistic expression. You can incorporate groups, activities, and productivity so that first-graders can take an active part in discovering biblical truths.
4. Six year-olds have limited writing and reading abilities.
Boys of this age usually have more difficulty with writing than girls. So make sure any reading is simple, and is either optional or done as a group so that children who have difficulty reading do not have to feel embarrassed.
5. Six year-olds like surprises.
Because six year olds enjoy being surprised, try to incorporate an element of surprise in each storytelling session. Let the children take turns discovering the surprise element and then listen for how it applies to the story.
6. Six year-olds are imaginative, curious, and enthusiastic.
They tend to be busy and noisy, and their enthusiasm often finds its way into competition. Six year olds may be more interested in the process of an activity than in the finished product. This often translates into speed and sloppiness. Six year olds are usually in a hurry. When planning lessons it helps to have a large variety of activites to accomodate the needs and interests of your sixes.
Whether you teach in home, church or school, this tips will help you be more effective in communicating with six year-olds. Happy teaching!