How to Rev Up Preteen Sunday School

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“Why do I keep doing this? I’ll never reach those kids. Josh already knows more than I do. And AJ doesn’t know any answers and doesn’t really care. Of course Vicki and Emily will whisper through most of the hour. And Todd will do his best to disrupt whatever we do. It seems like we never make any progress.”

If you’ve taught fifth- and sixth-graders lately, you’ve probably had Saturday night thoughts like this. What’s wrong with Sunday school for this age group? What makes it so hard to reach them? What’s lacking in curriculum? Here’s what teachers say — and ideas to help solve the top-4 problems.

PROBLEM #1: IT’S NO FUN

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Let’s face it: We all like to have fun! But fifth- and sixth-graders are a bit more demanding about it than adults. They aren’t patient about being bored for an hour in Sunday school when they could be home playing Nintendo or riding a mountain bike.

One problem is that most curriculum and Sunday school classes attempt to pour biblical information into kids’ heads whether they want it or not. As Rosetta McHugh of Bourbonnais, Illinois, puts it: “Many people think Sunday school needs to be cut and dried-the same old stuff every week. But kids need different things each week: Go out somewhere, add puppets, or do some ‘off-the-wall,’ exciting things. Let kids laugh and get involved.”

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Having fun in class isn’t just a time-filler. At this age kids’social development is at a critical stage. What better place is there for kids to develop appropriate social skills and attitudes than with a bunch of other kids in the church? And after all, shouldn’t learning about the Creator of the Universe be enjoyable?

So, what can we do to help kids have more fun?

  • Do something different each week. Hitting a doughnut shop once a quarter might not be a bad idea!
  • Try meeting in a different room once in a while. Meet outside when the weather permits.
  • Talk about whatever interests your kids. Let kids tell you what would be fun for them; then do whatever is feasible.
  • Allow for something crazy now and then, such as having an air-band contest using kids’ favorite Christian artist tapes.
  • Make learning fun. Don’t play games for the fun part and then make kids sit down and shut up for a serious Bible study. Play games kids like, if they can be tied into the class theme. Having fun studying the Bible can get kids excited about scripture.
  • Have kids act out Bible stories. Or use creative writing and have kids write advice to Bible characters facing a decision.

Let kids draw, sing, move around and laugh as they discover new things from scripture. If you’ve got your kids sitting quietly in their seats for the whole hour, they’re probably not learning much. And they’ll quit coming the first chance they get.

If we want our kids to develop in their faith and keep attending church and Sunday school as teenagers and adults, it had better be enjoyable for them now.

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Children's Ministry Magazine

Children's Ministry Magazine is the most read magazine for people who minister to children from birth through sixth grade. We're partnering with you to make Jesus irresistible to kids.

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  1. SHAREN BURNWORTH on

    I would like to subscribe to your magazine 1 year to start but it only offers 3 years. If you will change it to 1 year to start please let me know.

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