4TH GRADE: WORSHIP & GIVING
Why this is important:
Worship is the most important thing we do as Christians. It is about letting God know how much we love Him and appreciate Him. It is between us and God. It isn’t about us or about self-improvement. It is all about glorifying God.
What to do:
Talk about worship and what it is. Singing is one way. But it most certainly isn't the only way. Our choices, the way we treat others, and how we spend our time are worship. Share with your child how you worshipped God today with your choices and actions and allow them to do the same.
This may be a difficult thing to teach. It may be a difficult think to understand. Repeat this idea and allow it to sink in. Remember, being consistent in what you teach and how you act is incredibly important. If you are teaching your children to worship God in all their actions, then you must be worshipping God in your actions as well, or they will be misled by your example. There is room for mistakes, and if you notice you are having a tough week use this as a moment to teach your fourth grader that God forgives us. Christians mess up. Confessing this to God is also a part of worship. We honor Him by acknowledging our weaknesses and His strength.
Giving is another part of worship. Luke 12:34 (NIV) says, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You may want to look at your own giving first and make sure your heart matches your giving. All of us agree that God is the most important thing in our lives; but, if we take an honest look at where our money is going, our treasure may not agree with us. The rule of 10 percent is a good place to start; 10 percent was the expected percentage given to God in the Old Testament and is still a good rule to follow today. Not every family will be able to give 10 percent, but the point is to take a hard look at your finances and stretch yourself to give. Once you have done that, teach your children about giving by sharing how you give to the church. If they earn any money or get an allowance, teach them to give 10 percent of that to God. Share how you give your time to the church and how this is worship to God. Being generous with our time and money is the attitude of worship that we want to pass along to our children.
5TH GRADE: MENTORS AND PREPARING FOR TEEN YEARS
Why this is important:
Faith isn’t something that should only be discussed at church. Faith is something to be lived out, studied, and talked about among our friends and in our homes. Talking about faith outside of church is one of the best and most natural ways for children to know that faith is real. Fifth grade is a great time to find a nonfamily member to commit to being a part of your child’s life. Or maybe even five people! This is the time you want to focus on widening your child's circle. You want to help build a team of people that your child can go to and look to for advice and support. Ask your child what five people they look up to. Find ways for your child to spend time with them.
What to do:
1. Pray about the influences in your child's life. Pray that God will put someone in your child's life to be a mentor.
2. Talk to someone about being a mentor to your child. Explain the purpose of mentoring and ask if the person would be willing to commit to helping you raise your child in faith.
3. It is important for mentors to have some quality/fun time with your child. The mentor will be a friend who listens, hangs out, and helps encourage spiritual development. The mentor is not to be a disciplinarian. The mentor is not someone that tells you every detail of the conversations with your child. However, you must trust this mentor to inform you of any concerns about what your child shares.
PREPARING FOR THE TEEN YEARS
Why this is important:
Your child will be going to Middle School and entering the teen years shortly. Your child may be showing early signs of puberty. (Gasp!) While nothing can fully prepare you for all of the changes (and fun!) ahead, your child needs you, and your child needs God. It may feel like and be a mess sometimes, but this stage matters so much!
What to do:
Think about the influences your child has. Think about the distractions. How can you help your child to stay focused on what is important. This may mean your child looks different than the rest of their friends and culture. Be purposeful about the messages your child is receiving each day, through music, commercials, ads and marketing, tv shows, movies, games, friends, etc. If a tv show is not honoring God, should we watch it? If a song has lyrics that don't honor God, should we hum along? How can you help your child learn to continually ask whether the influences in their lives are honoring God or not. What can we do about them when they aren't? Help your child learn to develop a heart, eyes, and ears that are sensitive to the messages they are receiving each day. Because those messages are influential whether we want to admit it or not. We won't always be able to control the websites our children visit. Or pick the movies our kids watch. But we can help them learn how to make those decisions, even when they are hard, and it may feel lonely.
Many school systems talk about sex during 5th grade, so you may choose to talk to your child before they learn it from their school. It is okay to keep it basic. Each family will have a different way that works best for them to talk about sex. Don’t be under the false impression that your children don’t know anything about it. They will need much more information in a couple of years, especially about how to have a relationship and how to set appropriate boundaries.
Also, many children begin getting cell phones as they head to Middle School. Pray about the best time to get your child a phone, if that is something you or your child desires. Think about the affect it will have on your child and their relationship with others. How can you limit the distractions in your child's life, especially from a phone? What boundaries need to be set and communicated about phones and internet use? Perhaps you first want to start your child on a phone that does not have internet access, just the ability to make phone calls or texts. It may be wise for your child to slowly have access to their technology independence. (Remember, we survived our childhoods and adolescents without cell phones.) Also, it doesn't matter what you say about phones, movies, music, tv, etc. Your child will be influenced by the way you choose to live your life. What behaviors do you want your children to mimmic?
Make the most:
Make the most of the time you already spend together by creating some routines in your daily life. Build your child up each morning with encouraging words. Make the most of the time you spend in the car. As you drive around town, talk to your child, listen. If you are having trouble getting your child to open up about their day, share with them some of the details of your day! Make family meal times sacred time. Plan one-on-one time with your child. Taking a walk together may be a wonderful way to connect. Prioritize your bedtime routine. The conversations you have at bedtime are an incredible opportunity to connect to your child's heart. Remember your child is never too old to have prayer and blessing time together.
Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More, By Rachel Macy Stafford