Children nurtured in the love and grace of God learn the story of who and whose they are by watching, listening, tasting, smelling, and exploring holy things in the context of a faith community. They receive and give messages very simply and very directly. As a caregiver and spiritual guide, your actions will communicate to the youngest among us that the faith community welcomes their participation, respects them as individuals, and wants to establish the basis for a long-term relationship with them.
Children of this age enjoy engaging with other children rather than just the adults around them. They pretend and play imaginative roles other than those they see in their caregivers. Their imaginations inspire them to craft spaceships or be explorers or lions. Many children in this age group are able to read; however, at times they may struggle to understand biblical concepts. Encouraged by a sense of wonder at God’s amazing ways, they can be reassured of God’s love for them—a love that does not depend on what they know or understand.
Children this age play and learn by pretending and mimicking what the adults around them do. They learn about spiritual matters the same way they learn about other things: through relationships with caring people, through their senses, through hands-on experiences, through play, through curiosity. While children this age think literally, listening to stories helps spark their young imaginations.
A multiage environment is a wonderful place for children of various ages to grow in faith. Differences in the experiences, knowledge, and abilities of the children can be celebrated. It is a joy to observe older children as they help their younger friends. They do so with great pride. As we watch older children respectfully interact with younger ones, we see their potentials unfold. Younger children benefit by modeling actions from their older peers.
Children this age are developing an understanding of abstract concepts. They are able to solve problems more independently and modify behavior based on consequences. They are growing in their desire to join teams and groups and can appreciate how God’s Word shapes the identity of members of the body of Christ. Through their love of questions and learning of God’s grace, they can grow in their discipleship and be inspired to practice hospitality, generosity, and love.