My Sunday School 4th and 5th grade class more than doubled this week. We talked about heaven. And here is what I have discovered in working with tweens, and I hope it helps you and grows your class also or just help you with tweens/preteens.
1. Do not major on the minors. They already do that on their own. Little comments, ignore unless you want more of them. Pass them by and keep talking. They are listening. They get it and read between your lines. They are uncertain often, rude now and then, disruptive maybe often, but always they are aware of everything and are listening. If they are doodling, they are still listening. If they tap on the table, they are still listening. This is a misconception that they don’t listen. The truth is they listen to genuine truth, conviction, what you know and are passionate about. They will ignore anything you are passive or insecure about. They are insecure enough to deal with your insecurity. Don’t open your mouth unless you know what you are talking about.
2. The rules are the rules but minimize that. I have a few rules everyone has to abide by but very few. The main one is that no one can insult or disrespect anyone. And that one, I will call out. Otherwise, let’s talk. You are free to be loved and supported here, free to learn and express, ask questions. That is the focus. If you want perfect quiet citizens with no problems or doubts, get away from tweens. Loosen up. Yes, with the few rules that really matter, adhere to everyone the same, but let other things slide for the purpose of encouragement and training.
3. Treat them like young adults because they are. Do not dumb down the truth or the lessons. Be practical and assume they know more than they should about the world and life. They get it. They see far too much and need truth for navigating it all. Involve them in the discussion. Treat them with respect.
4. Be real. Tweens can see though a fake in a hot honey running second. Clean up your act before trying to teach a tween truth. They will pick up on fake and reject it. In many ways, they need presentations of genuine truth. They are learning whether to accept or reject the truth now and need that genuine truth presented. Always be genuine.
5. Show love. Tweens are often unlovable. They change moods with their tidal hormone shifts and range from amazingly cuddly to revolting in the same hour! But they always, always, always need love. Love them. Do not withhold love ever. See past the stupid and see them as Jesus sees them, needing love. Love them.❤