5 Things All First Graders Have in Common

Enter a room full of six- and seven-year-olds and you’re bound to spot one thing right away: the cute little gaps of kids who whistle while they talk. Forget calling it first grade. This is the Missing Teeth Club.

And the similarities don’t stop there. Here are five things all first graders have in common and what you can do to leverage this phase of life.

1. First Graders Talk Nonstop

With this group, breath takes a backseat to words. They say what they think and they talk without thinking. And then, only when absolutely necessary, they gulp in some air and start again. This pace of conversation leads to lots of laughs and . . . maybe some embarrassment too.

Related Reading: Important Mental and Physical Changes That Happen at Every Phase

What you can do: Make the most of your time together by leaving room for informal conversation—just let those kids ramble. You can figure out a lot about their life just by listening.

2. First Graders Love to Learn

Oh the wonder of letters, numbers, shapes and colors! These kids are writing names and tying shoes with determination. The ability to really focus in on an activity longer than ever before (we’re talking 15 minutes here, so don’t get any wild ideas) means challenges are simply a platform for discovery and growth.

What you can do: Engage your budding scientist by giving concrete examples during teachable moments. First graders genuinely desire understanding and soak up information like a sponge.

3. First Graders Need Structure (and boy, are they getting it!)

If kindergarten was a toe in the water, first grade is a jump off the diving board. School schedules mean less time for play, more early morning alarm clocks and a higher demand for focused attention. Thankfully, six- and seven-year-olds find their sweet spot in routine.

Related Reading: 3 Questions Every Elementary Schooler is Asking Themselves

What you can do: Encourage a solid 10-12 hours of sleep each night and some predictability during the day. Weekends offer the perfect opportunity for regularly scheduled time together. Try Saturday morning donuts or Sunday afternoon walks.

4. First Graders Crave Fun

Kids will be kids, the saying goes. And what a beautiful truth. Kids need room to run, a place to be loud and the freedom to act a little crazy. First graders are no exception. These are an optimistic, happy bunch, floating from play group to play group and finding all kinds of ways to use their imagination.

What you can do: Motivate your first grader by playing on their level. Let loose. Get goofy. The key to coaching moral abilities isn’t always hidden in heart-to-heart moments. It’s found in fun. That’s because first graders more easily express themselves through play.

Related Reading: How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends 

5. First Graders Want Your Attention

Those big, toothless grins tell us only half the story. While our first graders are a fun-loving crew, they’re also desperate for attention. The smiles of these little people-pleasers shout, “Hey! Look at me!” in a room full of competition.

What you can do: Answer the call by giving your undivided attention freely and as often as possible. Be proactive. Encourage your first grader at every turn and offer help when needed. You can instill purpose and capture their heart as you foster growth through relationship.

Life with a first grader is talkative, energetic and fun one. Remember, it’s just a phase. . . so don’t miss it.

Read Next: How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends

How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends

By the time kids hit upper elementary, they begin to realize their first major crisis: Friendship.

Kids wonder if they have any friends and if their peers will accept them. To avoid rejection, they consider changing who they are no matter the cost.

This isn’t just something that happens to our fourth and fifth graders. Believe it or not, research is beginning to show that by kindergarten many kids are testing the power of their influence and seeking connections with friends at any cost.

Meaning, there’s a very small window of time where kids can learn how to become friends before they actually have friends. As soon as they become aware there are other people in the world besides them, they start making decisions based on the sort of friends they want to attract.

We’re teaching kids how to be friends while they’re already experiencing their first taste of friendship. This would be like training for your first marathon while you’re running it. You might get a lucky mile here and there, but overall the race won’t end well without some serious help.

Here are a few ways you can help your elementary kids develop friendships.

Develop self-confidence.

When a child is self-confident, they’re less likely to find identity in her friends. Help them find their identity in who God made them to be. Not in what they can do or who thinks they’re cool. Continue reading “How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends”

3 Things to Know Before the First Day of Kindergarten

The first few days and weeks of school are a big deal for kindergarteners and their parents. It may feel like nothing has changed since preschool (because the last year flew by in the blink of an eye), but 5 and 6-year-olds are actually entering into a completely new phase.

This is the phase when unfiltered words make you laugh, homework makes you cry, and life becomes a stage where your kid shouts “look at me!”

Here are three important things to know before a student’s first day of kindergarten.

1. This phase is full of personality and memorable statements.

By this age, a child can talk in sentences . . . and long run-on sentences, paragraphs, and wandering monologues. Sometimes it may seem as if the only goal for conversation is to Just-Keep-Talking. You will be amazed and entertained by all the profound and uncensored things they say. “I’m half Irish and half human.” “How did you get the wrinkles out of your hair?” “When I grow up, I’m going to have bracelets on my teeth.” “You’re talking so much I can’t hear you.” Continue reading “3 Things to Know Before the First Day of Kindergarten”

Important Mental and Physical Changes That Happen at Every Phase

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses addressed the nation of Israel and made a passionate plea to “impress” on the hearts of children core truths that relate to God’s character. Some translations use the phrase “teach diligently.” The phrase can also be translated to mean “to cause to learn.” He wasn’t advocating a lecture-based, Torah literacy program where a teacher’s responsibility ended once they presented the content.

What Moses knew was this. The role of a leader is not to simply present accurate information. The role of a leader is to keep presenting, to keep translating, to keep creating experiences until someone has learned what they need to know.

So your job is simple.

Know what can be expected of them and know how they think so they will hear what you say and know what to do.

ZERO TO ONE

Mental: The brain has 100 billion neurons (roughly the number of stars in the Milky Way), more than at any other time in life

Physical: Double their birth weight and learning to roll over

ONE & TWO

Mental:Understands roughly 70 words and learning to walk

Physical:Has grown to half their adult height and can follow two-part instructions

Watch Now: They Grow Up So Fast

THREE & FOUR

Mental: Has one quadrillion (a thousand trillion) connections between brain cells (twice as many as an adult)

Physical: Can stand on one foot, jump, walk backward, and pedal a tricycle Continue reading “Important Mental and Physical Changes That Happen at Every Phase”

Why Kids Need More Than Just Their Parents

If no volunteer can ever know what a parent knows, when why recruit anyone to help with kids and teenagers?

It would definitely make things easier if you could just tell parents, “Since you know more than we can ever know, and you have more time than we will ever have, and you care about this more than we ever will, this is really up to you as the parent.

You could also misquote Deuteronomy 6 to convince parents it’s their job alone, not the church’s to raise their kids. Just skip the part of the text where Moses speaks to every leader in the crowd (not just parents).

Moses was actually the first guy with the idea, “It takes a village.”

Sure, parents should be the primary influence in their kid’s lives.

But research, experts, and statistics suggest that kids who have other adults in their lives have better odds at winning. Continue reading “Why Kids Need More Than Just Their Parents”