Understanding Development Makes Effective Planning

Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, and Children in Action cover a wide age-range of children and stages of development. Knowing that your older children don’t learn in the same way your younger children learn, how can leaders plan effective lessons that will meet the needs of all the children in your GA, RA, or CA group?

Consider these general childhood development milestones as you plan your next lesson:

  • Six- and seven-year-old children need activities that are high-energy and require frequent movement. They are still developing fine motor skills and are concrete thinkers.
  • Eight- and nine-year-old children have improved fine motor skills and attention spans. They understand absolutes like truth and honesty and are becoming ready to ask questions about religion.
  • Ten- and eleven-year-old children are beginning to understand abstract thoughts and form their own faith. They want to blend in with friends and can question the morals and ethics of others.

Understanding the general developmental milestones for children helps leaders plan appropriate activities for GA, RA, or CA when coupled with a good understanding of the children you lead each week. You know your children better than anyone else. If you read an activity and think, “There is no way . . . ” consider tweaking the activity to make it more appropriate for your group. Here are a couple examples:

Example 1: A lesson doesn’t have enough movement activities for your younger group. As a leader you can tweak an activity or story time by:

  • challenging your children to make up movements to go with this month’s Scripture verse.
  • allowing children to toss paper balls into a trash can or basket for correct answers as they review main points of a story.

Example 2: You like the point of an activity labeled Prereaders or Lads, but you lead older GAs or RAs and know that the activity won’t hold their interest long. As a leader, you can tweak the activity by:

  • encouraging GAs and RAs to use the activity to create a new one for your group. (Often, their imaginations are better than ours!)
  • challenging older GAs and RAs to practice the activity so they can teach it to a younger GA group or RA chapter or a younger sibling.

Because leaders cannot always travel to a training event, national WMU has created several online courses for leaders to learn more about childhood development and how children learn. For more information about these courses, visit wmu.com/develop.

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