In my last post I talked about teaching six year olds. By the time those children turn seven they have changed a lot. Equipped with insights about this new stage you can continue to teach them with confidence and effectiveness. So let’s look at some basics about sevens:
1. Seven-year-olds understand the flow of time more accurately.
The second grader’s concept of historical events continues to develop into a more accurate understanding. A chronological overview of the New Testament, continuing from a first grade overview of the Old Testament, helps second graders see that the Bible is not simply a collection of stories told like Aesop’s fables, but is one whole meaningful story in itself.
2. Seven-year-olds are curious and want to discover. They like codes.
Because of their inner desire to discover, try to include an element of discovery in each storytelling session, some sort of code, or puzzle. The children will listen to the story to discover the meaning of the codes.
3. Seven-year-olds need structure and rely on teachers.
Take time to plan and structure your sessions. Teachers play a key role in drawing children into activities as well as in guiding conversation toward an understanding of the theme of the session.
4. Seven-year-olds like to review.
Include brief reviews of previous lessons at the beginning and end of each session. Create these yourself, or choose a curriculum that includes a review element.
5. Seven-year-olds like to be read to.
Sevens tend to be good listeners. It is a great age to read to them from the Bible, and other materials relevant to the lessons.
6. Seven-year-olds often like to work by themselves or with a partner, but not often with a large group.
Sevens are more self-conscious so large-group activities may not be as interesting as working solo. Although they are hard workers, they can be moody and intense.
7. Most sevens write more clearly than they did when they were six.
However, seven year olds still find it difficult to copy material from a white board. And some, especially boys, don’t enjoy writing at all. So it is a good idea to keep writing activities to a minimum.
Let me add more more general point about sixes and sevens: their emerging ability to comprehend the flow of time can be a huge advantage in teaching them the Bible chronologically. By giving children a broad look at biblical events in the order in which they happened, it sets the stage for future study of the Bible in its traditional out-of-sequence order. It is important for children to see the Bible as a whole story so that when they learn the books of the Bible and study the traditionally ordered Bible, they can know, for example, how the events of Jesus’ life fit together and how Paul sent letters to different churches and people as he traveled. They will begin to see how Jesus was and is at the center of God’s plan for bringing the world back to Himself.