By Pastor John M. Opperman
Ages 6 - 8
Psychologists agree that there is no marked transition between early and
middle childhood. Rather, this span of years from six to eight constitutes
a transition period itself, since it marks the passing of the child from
home to school, play to work, instinct to will, and gives them a wider
experience and provides them a distinct place in the social order. Their
circle of companionship is enlarged and a more defendant round of
responsibility is assumed.
PHYSICALLY HE OR SHE IS A HUSTLER
In contrast with the former period, which is spoken of as sensory, this is
often called the Motor Period. The child is more violently active
and energetic, and to sit still for any length of time is torture.
||Of the senses or sensation.
||Connected with the reception and transmissions of
||In psychology, designating or have nerve carrying
impulse from the central nervous system to a muscle producing
||Of or manifested by muscular movement.
It is evident that there is a greater need than ever for a larger program
of activity. Most of their time will be spent in:
||He or she no longer plays alone.
||Their play is more purposeful.
||It is no longer aimless exercise of former
days, but there is evidence of purposeful construction. He or
she desires to attain skill in certain movements, like
throwing the ball, etc. SOMETHING TO DO AND SOMETHING TO MAKE
SHOULD BE THE OBJECT IN ALL PLANS FOR THEIR PLAY.
||Play and playmates will be determined by sex.
At five or six we note some difference between boys and girls
in their choice of pursuits. Boys find interest in vigorous
games that require scrimmages and scrambles. Girls in dolls
and miniature furniture.
Where the imagination has been properly trained he passes from play to
work without experiencing the drudgery with which work is associated in
||The child who learns at home to work
steadily, carefully, and yet quickly, will be a great asset to
industry. Every child should have regular chores to be done.
||Social value. Work affords more social
contacts than play. Parents who find it difficult to fill a
place in the play of their child, obtain fellowship in work.
In cooperative work a parent is able to impart knowledge far
better than by instruction.
||Moral value. The Bible very plainly points
out the close relationship between work and character. As
someone has said, “The Devil tempts other men, but idle men
tempt the Devil.” Idleness is the parent of crime, as industry
is the father of contentment.
MENTALLY HE OR SHE IS AN OBSERVER
Perception is quicker, more acute,
and more defiant than in the previous stages. But while a child now has
their eyes to see and ears to hear the things that escape the notice of
the mentally absorbed adult, he or she is far from understanding these new
sights and scenes. The powers of reasoning and discriminating are only
just now awakening, and we may easily overestimate a child’s intellectual
process at this time. The child’s mental progress depends largely upon the
law of apperception. [Apperception – is that mental process through which
new conceptions are interpreted in terms of the old.] ! ! !
Our Lord was a master of the law of apperception. His hearers were all
familiar with the Old Testament. For this reason He constantly built new
truth upon its well-known facts.
He described things that were to come in terms
of things that had already happened.
|His crucifixion upon the cross was to be similar to
the lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness.
|His burial and resurrection were to be likened to
the experiences through which Jonah had passed.
|The times of His return would be like the days of
Noah and the days of Lot.
To understand what the pupil’s experience has been, what ideas and habits
he or she has acquired is the primary duty of every teacher. Before
attempting to impart new information the teacher should undertake to
explore carefully, section by section, the child’s mind with all the tact
and ingenuity the teacher can command, and seek to determine exactly what
is already known. The Sunday school teacher may gain a practical entrance
into the child’s perception by visiting their grade at school and
familiarizing themselves with the child’s studies and surroundings. The
home contact and the school contact during the week are the teacher’s best
aids in making the religious contact on Sunday.
RELIGIOUSLY THE CHILD IS A DISCRIMINATOR
The child is naturally
God-inclined. His or her conscience is tender, the impulse to obey is
strong, and the implicit faith of earlier years still lingers with them.
But while the child is very credulous, they now begin to prepare
themselves for investigation in later life, for proof and certainty. The
child discriminates between:
||Fact and Fiction
The story has just as much charm as in earlier years, but the invariable
question, “Is it really true?” Is sure to follow. Life has become very
real to the children, and they require real things to satisfy their longings.
The Bible must be presented now as it will be taught in later years. The
reason that so many adolescents have their religious faith shattered is
their teachers have designated as fiction what they were taught as fact
during the most impressionable years of their life. They have not only
lost faith in the Bible and in God, but confidence in home and in the
church, where they have always come to look for truth and nothing but the
truth. The only way to save a child from the agony of doubt is to begin
with the truth and STICK WITH IT!
||Precept and Practice.
A child is now old enough to distinguish between what they are taught by
precept and what they are taught by practice. Mental and moral disorders
too often result when children discover inconsistencies in the lives of
their parents and teachers. The child discriminates so quickly between
precept and practice that it is of the greatest importance to remember,
“What you are speaks so loudly that they cannot hear what you are saying.”
The Primary child is still hungry for a story, so this remains the
teacher’s best method of imparting instruction. Professor Hall says, “Let
me tell the story and I do not care who writes the textbook.” And
Professor James designates good story telling as one of the best
intellectual qualifications of the teacher.
||As a little child he was led to worship through
imitation and instruction, now his understanding of God should
promote his action. Because a little child cannot comprehend God in
the same relationship as a mature adult, does not mean that his or
her God-given spirit of worship should not be encouraged. God to
them is an unseen companion, and a faithful friend. They can talk of
Him freely, but always with respect, and to Him freely, for He is
great and powerful. He gives us many things, especially health, so
we must remember to thank Him. It grieves Him when we do wrong. The
church should mean more to the child than a tedious service. He or
she should be taught to regard church attendance as a privilege and
to appreciate something of the service.
||Psalm 8:2 "Out of the mouth of babes and
nursing infants You have ordained strength" (NKJV)
One of the greatest problems of the Sunday school is to secure the
right attitude of the pupil to the holy things with which they are
associated. Much depends upon what impression the pupil forms at
first contact. Reverence for God’s day, for God’s house, and for
God’s ministers should be instilled into the heart and head of the
child in the earliest years.
The first act of discipline which the superintendent or teacher performs
should be upon themselves. Order is as contagious as disorder. The
word “discipline” literally means disciplining or training in orderliness. If
we are to make boys and girls disciples of Jesus Christ, order must be the
first requisite in our lives, lessons and classrooms.
The child’s respect for an institution will be in proportion to that
degree of regularity with which he or she has attended it. The importance
of the church and Sunday school is sure to suffer in their eyes just as
soon as they detect any carelessness of indifference of the part of adults
towards their attendance and punctuality in Sunday school and church; he
or she is undermined and will lose respect.
“The best way for a child to learn to fear God,” said Pestalossi “Is to
see and know a real Christian. The testimony of many a child convert has
been as follows: ‘First I learned to love my teacher, then I learned to
love my teacher’s Bible, and then I learned to love my teacher’s Savior.’”