Learning through the years
Common stories, spiritual practices and faith experiences help define church communities. The most frequently asked questions from pastors and educators seeking to grow disciples are these:
- Which stories, experiences and practices should we provide in our setting?
- By what age are children, youth and adults ready to hear, remember and apply these teachings?
There is not an age-appropriate chart or formula for faith development. People experience and grow at their own rates and in their own context. Multiple sources of guidelines with research behind them do exist, and suggestions for how, why and when to set the stage for learning to take place are available.
The newly created Wee Believe curriculum for early childhood learners highlights learning characteristics and important faith formation goals document for young children. In addition to clearly stated goals for the teacher, an important age-appropriate feature of these resources is the emphasis on ritual and repetition.
We Believe Younger and Older Elementary help children engage Bible stories and faith questions through creative, cooperative learning. Age appropriate activities support life-long faith goals for each age group.
Teacher Helps 01—Age-Level Characteristics
Younger Elementary—Grades (K) 1–2
Teacher Helps 02—Age-Level Characteristics
Older Elementary—Grades 3–4 (5)
The Center for Spirituality in Childhood and Adolescence and Search Institute offer wonderful articles and tips for parents to nurture children's spirituality. Although these guidelines are applicable for any faith tradition, they are appropriate for Christian parents and mentors.
Churches dedicated to Growing Christ’s Church Deep and Wide seek to provide a foundation of faith through Bible study, starting with the youngest disciples. Children Among Us, edited by Cassandra Williams and Elaine Barnett, offers guidelines for using the Bible with children and other information for developing healthy ministries with children in congregations.
Using the Bible with Children