Preteens can be a difficult group to lead if you don’t understand them. But if you do “get them”, they can be a really rewarding group to work with.
Here’s a simple blueprint to understanding preteens:
“Preteen are excited to follow Jesus and…are open to God.”
Preteens at a pivotal point in the spiritual developmental process. They’re capable of owning their relationship with Jesus and don’t have the walls up that most teenagers and adults do. They’re very moldable and tend to get excited about following Jesus when allowed to take ownership of their faith. For more on preteens “owning their faith”, read this: http://fourfivesix.org/bike/
“Preteens are in transition from childhood to adolescence.”
They’re not kids, so forget using puppets, and they’re not yet teenagers. They’re in transition from one to the other. They are uniquely “preteen”.
“Preteens are outspoken.”
Yes, they tend to speak before they think. This can be a positive sometimes and a negative sometimes. Before you get your feelings hurt, remember that it’s a part of their DNA.
“Preteens are energetic.”
Preteens are undergoing massive amounts of physical change, on the inside and outside. Therefore, they have a difficult time sitting still. Be sure to harness their high energy by keeping them moving throughout a lesson. Use it to your advantage, rather than reacting to discipline issues. Think proactively.
“Preteens are thinking.”
Their minds are changing. Therefore, they begin to ask questions about life & God that they once took for granted. Instead of thinking in black & white, they see shades of gray. Learn to ask questions and teach them how to ask questions about Jesus, faith and life.
“Preteens smell funny.”
Yeah, they forget the need for deodorant. Be nice, but feel free to educate them on proper hygiene 🙂
“Preteens are loud.”
Have a little fun with it. Give them opportunities, when appropriate, to make some noise. If not, they’ll make it anyway (often when you don’t want them too).
Remember that preteens are preteens. They are in transition from childhood to adolescence. The more we understand what makes them tick, the better we can point them to Jesus.