Neil posted this in 2001 referencing his former church...


Hi Karen....

We "broadly grade" at our church in part because of our size and in part because of our limited space.

One of my concerns is that we break along developmental lines, and not just based on numbers per class.


In some churches, they'll toss-in the Kindergartners with the 2nd graders, even though there's a large developmental divide between them. For me, it comes down to the individual kids, their ability both developmentally and psychologically to be able to deal with older kids in the class.


One year, I had a very bright but very immature 1st grader who turned off the older kids. Nobody wins with that situation.

Breaking out the 3rd through 5th is pretty tried and true. In some churches, that can include 6th graders, though it's a bit of an age stretch.


In a small church, in any given year you may have a sixth grader who for whatever reason need to be grouped with younger kids, rather than forced up into youth group. I think this flexibility is pastoral feature of WoRM.


It is REALLY IMPORTANT that your activities are not too young. Some rotation lessons and activities can skew a little young and simple.  If you're going to broadly grade 3rd through 6th together, your lessons should aim high.


Same with some workshops. Puppets work for younger, but not so much for older. Same with storytelling. Wherease, Cooking, Games and Computers are loved by all.


WHO teaches your older broadly graded group is important too. Some adults aren't ready for older kids (or younger).  Make sure you have teachers/shepherds that match your grade needs.

I like the age grouping of 2nd through 5th, or 3rd through 5th if you have enough.
But it shouldn't be carved in stone --this is one of the advantages of smaller churches --they can think a little more about individual needs rather than group needs.

Your particular choice of WORKSHOPS may affect how you group your kids. The computer lab, game, and drama workshop can require the most reading. And thus, first graders who can't read will struggle if thrown in with the older kids.  Those workshops are also "numbers sensitive" in that too many kids in a drama or computer lab is a problem.

Cooking, A-V and Art are less age and numbers sensitive.

Many smaller churches combine age groups for certain workshops, and make sure they split them for others. I typically like combining ages for Art and A-V, but definitely not for computers.

Then there are "seasonal" groupings when attendance slides or rises, and you just have to deal.


SHEPHERDS assisting younger kids can be a real blessing in any workshop, but especially when the younger ones are thrown in with the older ones.



Regarding Older Kids and potential attitude problems...


Sometimes its all about WHO is leading them. In my experience, 5th grade boys start to resent "moms" teaching them, probably because mom is wrestling with them at home.  12  is a very transitional age as we know.   Having "cool" Sr. Highs and men help you can really help you!

Hope this helps.
<>< Neil

We began rotation in January. We have a 10 min. gathering time with all ages, and then preschool stays in their own room with lessons based off our overall lessons, K/1st together, 2nd/3rd together, 4th/5th together and 6th on their own.

This split of ages worked very well for us, especially having our 6th graders on their own since this is their last year in our children's program, and they thought they were "too old" for some of what we were doing when we first introduced rotation. Their "shepherd" along with the workshop teachers were really able to make it something great for them by taking lessons to the next level, which they couldn't have done if they were with a younger group.

However, since our 6th graders will "graduate" this week and move to our jr/sr high program, we'll be "short" an age group for our rotations. Because of that, and because we're also short a few volunteers for the summer (grrrr!!!) some weeks we'll have all ages together (preschool thru 5th gr.), some weeks split in 2 groups, some their original groups - as we spend the summer with Moses!

My point is ... and I do have one! ... you could go back and forth between separated groups and one group or two groups or whatever, depending on the lesson and what message you want the kids to get from it. I've learned that just when I think I have things figured out, I have to make adjustments. So I've also learned that flexibility = peace!

[This message has been edited by Jan FPC Napa (edited 06-06-2001).]

For several years we have been MIXING AND MATCHING AGE GROUPS for certain workshops. part of that is by need, part by design. We want the older kids to feel that it is NORMAL to be around younger kids. Their "age-ism" is learned.



Sometimes I think that by strictly grading kids we set up expectations and attitudes that come back to haunt us.  In some communities, the 5th graders are the "old kids" in the school. In others, they are not.  In church, we should get them thinking "family" not "grades".


Start early to change expectations. As older kids start to feel "too old" ...make sure your activities and teachers aren't treating them like babies. (happens a lot)



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