Grade 4/5 Spiritual Development

Preteen / Spiritual Formation //

So, this was fun. Last week, my brother and I co-taught our final everyday parenting class on Grade 4|5 development. He’s an elementary school principal, and prior to that taught in the Grade 4|5 dual language program, and the magnet-gifted program. so, he’s good. AND, I take full credit for his professional success. There were many, many days during our childhood when I made him play “school.” He complained. But, look where he is now.


Quinn’s presentation focused on 3 key areas of development: physical, academic, social. A few highlights: the 8 keys to {academic} success — integrity, failure leads to success, speak with good purpose, this is it!, committment, ownership, flexibility, balance. LOVE. my mind’s been racing ever since about how we might incorporate these into Sundays. 

Also, helpful definitions: tween {10-12 year old} of which there are currently 20 million in the US. Projected to hit 23 million by 2020 {316 million total = 15%}. preteen/preadolescent refers to 9-14 year-olds. adolescence is the changing from childhood to adulthood, 13-19 year-olds. 

Following his presentation on child development, I offered everyday, practical tips for spiritual development. My categories: relationships, biblical + faith literacy, and Holy Spirit response. 


Encourage Noticing {who did they see | discuss similarities + differences} Lean into Spiritual Friendships + Peers: Encourage Kids to seek friends for prayer, help, encouragement.
Consider faith role models + share faith stories: PL teachers, aunts/uncles, neighbors, mentors.

Biblical + Faith Literacy
Challenge kids to learn / go deeper in faith / encourage Fact Finding together
Listen to their questions + give honest answers. Don’t stunt their growth because of fear.
Encourage connections between stories / Ex: Adam to Noah lineage .
Encourage discussion about worship {what it means, how God speaks to them}.
Holy Spirit Response
Encourage + Create space for response.
Prayer {out loud} / Create your own Body Prayer.
Create Quiet Space for: Journaling / Art / Reflection.
Ask questions: What does God look like to you? What does your faith look like today?
Music: Encourage Original Song as Response.
Service: Find areas to serve together or ways to contribute skills to others
Regardless of specific response — offer on-going encouragement about faith growth.





About the Author

Amy Dolan is founder, leader and blogger for Lemon Lime Kids, a children’s ministry consulting company that seeks to encourage churches to consider a fresh approach to leading and teaching children. Amy started the company in 2005, as a way to empower and encourage fellow children’s ministry leaders, and since that first day has had the opportunity to work with leaders & organizations committed to the spiritual growth of children. Amy believes that the church fully empowered, combined with the commitment of the family, and the compassion of the community has the power to inspire children’s faith for a lifetime. In addition to her consulting work with Lemon Lime Kids, Amy leads the strategic curriculum development for Phil Vischer’s new curriculum What’s in the Bible? (, and serves as Director of LOCAL, a Chicago-area children’s ministry collaborative ( Amy is the former Executive Director for Children’s Ministry at the Willow Creek Association, a former Children’s Ministry Director at The Chapel in Libertyville, IL and a Curriculum Writer for Promiseland at Willow Creek in South Barrington. Amy is proud to be married to her husband Kelly, and loves living in Chicago. Amy blogs at and tweets at @adolan.