early adolescent development

my brother quinn is a 5th – 6th grade public school teacher (you might say that the love of kids runs in our family: my sister: a family therapist, my other brother: a soon-to-be elementary school teacher, and my other other brother: the best babysitter on the planet)!

quinn recently developed a training for some local children’s ministry leaders on early adolescent development. and because he’s the smartest and most entertaining teacher i know, i thought i would share a portion of the training here. enjoy!

4 characteristics of early adolescents:

1. they know – students have more access to information than ever before and the information is more global in nature, it is accessible right at their fingertips through media and technology. most adults did not know as much information as kids do today at their age.

they also know social cues and can easily distinguish between real vs. fake. they are good judges of character  and gravitate towards those who are genuine.

children’s ministry application: provide opportunities for students to access information about the bible and their faith, and challenge their intellectual knowledge.

2. they want – just like they know a lot, they want a lot. they have a great desire to have more things, sometimes the stuff they have defines who they are. this is not always their fault because they live within a materialistic culture with parents who often don’t set boundaries.

children’s ministry application: instead of blaming students for their “i want” attitude – empower them with skills to handle greediness or materialism.

3. they can – they can produce and use their gifts for greater purposes of good. they are using the information they have, combined with their sense of creativity and problem solving to accomplish large tasks. students are able to understand a situation and apply their gifts for the good of the end goal.

children’s ministry application: believe in students to accomplish large goals. give them real problems and rely on them for real solutions. implement their suggestions and encourage them to continue thinking creatively for the church.

4. they will – these students will be our future leaders. they are currently going through an intense time of change which will shape them for adulthood.  this is the beginning of change for the rest of their adult lives as they become adults.  how they react now to the choices they make will shape them for the future.  these students will bring positive change to the future by thinking creatively, problem solving and using their gifts.

children’s ministry application: help students make great choices as they grow and encourage them with words of affirmation when you see them making great choices.

what characteristics would you add to quinn’s list?


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