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TEACHER TRAINING
By Pastor John M. Opperman

LATER CHILDHOOD
Ages 9 - 11



One of the most important and interesting periods of life is later childhood. It is called the adult period of childhood, for the maturity of the first division of life is reached. He or she is at their best mentally, physically, and spiritually. Before he or she enters into the second stage of life they must experience a new birth, as it were. He or she will go through great changes that will affect his or her entire being.

The most difficult period may be regarded as Early Adolescence.
The most important perhaps is Later Childhood. Especially in view of the fact that it holds within it’s training the solutions to many of the problems of adolescence.

PHYSICALLY HE OR SHE IS A ROVER

There are certain seasons when there surges through the veins of a child a strong impulse to break the routine of home and school. The great out-of-doors has a strong appeal and they find their keenest enjoyment while pursuing that which is closest to nature. The underlying impulses for these roving tendencies are natural to the child. Forest and field beckon them. Adventure dominates their life, and in the woods and fields they find a world yet undiscovered. Sunday school teachers can win the admiration and loyalty of their pupils by planning frequent field trips into the woods, especially in the summer time. In this connection it will be found best to have men teachers for boys and women teachers for girls, so they can better enter into their pupils pastimes.

This is a period of health and hardihood.
A constitution almost impregnable by disease is made possible by abounding health and unlimited energy. No longer needed for growth, boundless energy and good health cause the child to enlarge their field of activity.

MENTALLY HE OR SHE IS AN INVESTIGATOR

Reason is beginning to assert itself and observation is more accurate which, together with a growing spirit of self-reliance, render the child an independent and inquisitive examiner. He or she is just as full of questions as in their earlier years, but is now finding new ways of answering his own questions by investigations such as:

A. Collections
One writer says that 90% of all children collect one thing or another. At the age of ten any child may be gathering four or five different sorts of things at once.
B. Machinery
There is a passion for investigating machinery of all kinds. Machine toys will be enjoyed for a study of the principles that underlie their movements; and their destruction is not wanton and willful, but rather for the purpose of reconstruction.
C. Reading
Now that he or she is beginning to read easily, books afford them a new field of investigation. The world of books is a very large one, and just how far an individual will enter and explore this accessible domain will largely depend what action is taken at this time. Reading with some children becomes more interesting than playing. Parents and teachers could not ask for any better opportunity than to provide for this natural hunger and to cultivate a taste for the best books. Moreover, as is the case with all instincts, failure to encourage the reading habit at this time may result in its loss. In a home where there are no books and no discussion of books, the reading instinct tends to atrophy. On the other hand, book-loving parents unconsciously create book-loving children, and the kind of books they place in the hands of their boys and girls will shape their interest and character. It is a mistake to regard a child’s reading as a mere pastime. Whether he or she ever gets into the great world of books and draws mental and moral refreshment from its innumerable fountains will depend upon their first impressions.
 
GOOD BOOKS HAVE ALWAYS MADE GREAT MEN AND WOMEN. To the end of life the love of good literature will be one of its mightiest spiritual forces, so that the Sunday school teacher as well as the parent has a responsibility in cultivating a taste for books. Both boys and girls can be attracted to the Bible when once they are shown that it is a great composite of many books containing action and emotion, prose and poetry, history and parable. We become what we read. Every parent should be encouraged to build a library suitable for his or her child.
D. Memory
Generally, this is the sharpest period in the memory of a child. In fact this is often called the golden age of memory. At the of age of twelve boys and girls can remember almost twice as much of a story as at the age of nine. This is the period in life when scripture should be committed to memory. What is learned at this age will remain for life.

SOCIALLY HE OR SHE IS GANG-MINDED

Solitude is feared and shunned by all human beings. The desire for the presence of others shows itself in the formation of clubs or gangs in the later years of childhood. This is furthered by:
A. Dislike of the opposite sex
Miss Mary Whitley says, “By ten or eleven a boy is learning lessons of group loyalty which the girl learns with greater difficulty. Certain petty jealousies remain as a dividing force, hindering the cooperation of the girls’ group as a unit. Girls group themselves more often in the wintertime for social rather than athletic ends. These might better be designated as ‘sets’ rather than gangs. The set is exclusive and undemocratic. It has no organization, leader or history. It snubs its rivals while the gang fights them. The members of a set also snub one another and quarrel among themselves. There is none of the deep-seated instinctive loyalty which the members of the gang have for each other.”
B. Tendency for organization
The gang or set is very loosely organized, but it is a step in this direction. Boys and girls find they can accomplish more by organized effort or team work, and this becomes an underlying motive fully as much as the desire for company. It is important that parents and teachers recognize the influence of the gang over their boys and girls. They will do well to seek to get into the good graces of the gang and influence the character of what goes on without the children realizing that there is any interference with their activities. If the gang can be made to control its own lawlessness and to be a protector of those upon whom it has been preying, what limit is there to the utilization of its spirit and enthusiasm? The gang is usually subject to its leader, and he or she therefore should be the first object in any campaign to win the favor and support of the group. WHEN THE GANG CONSTITUTES A SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS, regular attendance and interest is assured. Happy is the teacher who can make his or her class the baseball team that claims the loyalty and interest of each member.

SPIRITUALLY HE OR SHE IS A WORSHIPER

His or her hero is very real to them. Boys find their heroes in everyday life. Girls are more likely to obtain them from books; radio and television personalities capture the hearts of children today. Nowhere can be found such a hall of fame as in the Bible. What boy will not become intensely interested in the experience of Joseph and the exaltation of Daniel?

What girl will not be captivated by the courage and success of Esther? The love of Ruth and the watchful eye of Miriam will thrill and encourage any girl. The reason that such a small percent of children choose bible characters as their ideals is because these have never been so vividly presented as have less worthy personalities.

THE HERO OF HEROES IS JESUS. If presented right all ideals will lead the pupil to Jesus Christ. The end of all hero lessons is to bring the children to discover their ideal hero in Jesus. As in most cases the characters are only a type of Christ so all hero lessons must be but stepping-stones to the HERO of all heaven and earth.

TRAINING

These are the golden years of opportunity! With his or her health at its best and his or her understanding now capable of grasping the serious and solemn matters of life, the child possesses a world of possibilities. Though he or she may be artless, docile, and trustful, they must be firmly anchored against the storms and stress that will shake his or her soul in the trying and troublesome teens. To further this end special attention should be given to:
A. The wholesome observance of the Lord ’s Day.
The Lord’s Day ought to be observed so as to express the joy of Christian faith. The Church, Sunday school, and age-group meetings should provide information, worship, and related spiritual experiences. In order that the growing boy and girl may undergo a deepening spiritual understanding of the Gospel. Care must be exercised in the attitudes expressed lest children accept the all too common philosophy that spiritual things are primarily for Sunday while secular standards predominate during the other days of the week.
B. The Study of the Bible.
As the teacher is the central figure in the Primary department, the Bible should occupy a similar place in the Junior department. Having won the child to the teacher, the next job of the teacher should be to win the child to God’s Word. Competitive drills in looking up references in the Bible are a pleasant and profitable exercise. Where this is continued faithfully, the child can turn to ANY PORTION OF SCRIPTURE almost immediately. The study of the lesson should be conducted with Bible in hand, although care should be taken that interest is not sacrificed through excessive reading of difficult and incomprehensible passages. The quarterly is just a guide to steer us through the Bible in a systematic way. If we have studied the lesson completely, we can lay it aside, pick up the Bible and teach with very little reading. Thus the child is brought to realize that the lesson is in the Bible.
C. Memory work.
As at no other time will the child be able to absorb as much and remember so well, their mind should be stored with spiritual truths from which he or she can draw in the emergencies of the future. Hymns, Psalms, and choice selections should be accurately committed to MEMORY. Much that is now not understood will be revealed to the larger reason in later experiences and will present a bulwark of strength against the coming storms of temptation and doubts.
D. Experience and training in Worship.
Habits formed at this time in life are largely carried through life. The habit of REGULAR attendance in worship service should be formed now, or it will be hard to get the young adolescent interested enough to become a participant. When children are present in the service they should be made to feel both wanted and welcomed. A child’s hymn, prayer, and sermon may enrich the tone of worship. Children do not require silly sermons or senseless songs. They will enjoy real worship if it is within their comprehension.
E. Decision and Church Membership.
Did you ever notice how definitely God speaks of child evangelism in the Old Testament? Five times in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua (see below). God reminds parents that if they will be careful to observe certain ordinances and give certain instructions to stimulate the spirit of inquiry, that children of their own accord ask, “What mean these things?” That was God’s appointed time to have imparted the knowledge of salvation. If parents and Sunday school teachers are faithful in their instruction, then the child of his own accord will ask, “What must I do to be saved?” At all times the child’s instructors need to be alert for that all-important inquiry and especially during the years of later childhood if it has not been heard earlier.

Exodus 12:26-27
And it shall be, when your children say to you, "What do you mean by this service?" that you shall say, "It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households."  (NKJV)

Exodus 13:14
So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, "What is this?" that you shall say to him, "By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."  (NKJV)

Deuteronomy 6:20-21
When your son asks you in time to come, saying, "What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you?"  then you shall say to your son: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand."  (NKJV)

Joshua 4:6-7
When your children ask in time to come, saying, "What do these stones mean to you?"  Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.  (NKJV)

Joshua 4:21-22
"When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, "What are these stones?"  then you shall let your children know, saying, "Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land."  (NKJV)


 




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