Making God’s Word Practical for Children
Children’s workers share the great responsibility of helping to shape children spiritually. This task can prove challenging at times, but the reward of seeing children come to know God far outweighs the challenges we will face. So how can we, as children’s workers, be effective in helping children grow spiritually? Being that children are little sponges ready to absorb the world around them, we need to ensure that spiritual concepts are easy for them to absorb. How do we do this you may ask? In Deuteronomy 6:7-9 it tells us that we are to use practical everyday happenings to explain the Word of God to children.
A few years ago I worked as a teacher at a Christian daycare center. After perusing the curriculum I asked myself “How am I going to make this plain to my students?” I faced the challenge of teaching 18-24mth olds about the teachings of God. Being the creative person I am, I prayed and asked God to guide me in teaching His children in such a way that they would remember His word. One day during recess one of my students came to me and asked “Ms. Barboo (the name I was affectionately nicknamed), does God live in the clouds?” This question inspired me to teach them about creation. I took the children all around the campus and explained to them how God made everything they saw. In doing this, God became even more real to them. They wanted to know more about God and became inquisitive about other things He made.
Practical application of God’s Word will come easily to children’s workers once they understand the stages of cognitive development that children experience. In 1920, a Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget identified four stages of cognitive development. He found that with each stage children’s thinking and logic were qualitatively different. The stages were labeled as:
Sensorimotor or Practical intelligence- birth to age 1 ½ or 2 yrs
Preoperational or Intuitive intelligence- 1 ½ yrs or 2yrs to 7 or 8 yrs
Concrete Operations or Concrete intellectual operations- age 7 or 8yrs to 11 or 12yrs
Formal operations or Abstract intellectual operations- beginning at age 11 or 12 yrs
Understanding each stage of the cognitive process is an important factor in developing Biblical lessons. When each stage is fully understood, practical application of God’s word will be easier to implement with each lesson. We will cover each stage of the cognitive development process in more detail as this series progress=