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TEACHER TRAINING
By Pastor John M. Opperman

MIDDLE CHILDHOOD
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.

Sensory:

A. Of the senses or sensation.
B. Connected with the reception and transmissions of sense impressions.

Motor:
A. In psychology, designating or have nerve carrying impulse from the central nervous system to a muscle producing motion.
B. 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:
A. PLAY
1. He or she no longer plays alone.
2. 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.
3. 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.
B. WORK
Where the imagination has been properly trained he passes from play to work without experiencing the drudgery with which work is associated in later life:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
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.
He described things that were to come in terms of things that had already happened.

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:
A. 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!
B. 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.”

TRAINING

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.
A. 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)
B. Reverence.
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.

ORDER
.
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.

REGULARITY

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.’”

 

 



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