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What Is My Kid Thinking?

Have you ever watched your elementary-aged kid while they are learning or doing homework? Sometimes you see a blank stare. But sometimes you can almost see the gears turning, the dots connecting, and the gaps filling. Their brains are working so hard to figure things out - reading, math, science, friendships, and so much more.

In these phases (Kindergarten through Fifth Grade), words are unfiltered, everything is an adventure, and games get very competitive. You probably hear, “Look at me!” on repeat. As kids move through this phase and get closer to middle school, they begin to become more confident and continuously assert, “I’ve got this.”

While preschoolers think like artists, elementary-age kids think like scientists. They want to see how things are working and learn best through concrete evidence. Behind their overconfidence and desire for adventure, they are asking very important questions. When you know what the underlying needs and questions are, you can become a better parent.

In Kindergarten and First Grade, kids want to show off their accomplishments. School provides a great opportunity for building social skills. In this phase, kids want to know, “Do I have your attention?” To answer this question, invest time and attention into their interests. The goal is to improve abilities.

For Second and Third Graders, nothing is impossible. They are ready to take on the world because everything sounds fun. Despite their readiness for adventure and willingness to jump in, they are asking, “Do I have what it takes?” You want to broaden their confidence as they continue to interact with their friends and surroundings.

Fourth and Fifth graders have a mix of uncertainty and overconfidence. While they insist they can handle all situations, they are insecure about friendships. Under all of that, they are asking, “Do I have friends?” The best way to parent this phase is to help them develop healthy friendships.

The elementary phase is full of opportunities for learning and growth. This phase is when kids begin developing life-long friendships and their framework for how they interact with people and things. The main goal for this phase is to engage their interests so they can trust God’s character and experience God’s family.

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