5th and 6th Grade Ministry

We just started a 5th and 6th grade youth ministry (adapting from the awesome Edge materials) at our parish and it's been very well-received so far! Kids have been engaged, parents have been excited. Wanted to see if anyone else has been doing ministry with this age group and had any best practices or if anyone else is starting something new like this and wanted to share their ideas.

Comments

  • Hello! We are actually going to be taking a leap of faith this fall and split our middle school program into a 5th/6th youth group and a 7th/8th youth group. This is really the first in our area to be doing something like this, so I am looking for some advice/tips to make this an effective ministry for adding the 5th graders. We to will be using the Edge material and adapting it to the needs of the 5th/6th graders.

    So I guess my questions are: how did you adapt the curriculum? was the format for your nights the same as Edge? What tips/tricks to you have to make this ministry run smoothly?

    Thank you so much!

  • We adapted the curriculum by removing some of the references to sensitive topics and recognizing that you need to speak at a different level for them since developmentally they are a step down from the 7th and 8th graders. They have a harder time grasping the more nebulous concepts. Make sure that you make clear connections between weeks so the kids can see the bigger picture--you have to be a bit of an artist in this regard, slowly revealing more and more of the bigger picture.

    Generally speaking, the Gather, Proclaim, Break, Send model works well for this age group, but your transitions need to be very clear otherwise the kids have a harder time switching between activities and will get distracted very easily. However, keeping things moving and high energy keeps the kids engaged. At our parish, this age group didn't respond well to any "up-front" games, they liked to be engaged and so we played a lot more large group games that everyone could play. The small group time will not work as well as it does with middle and high school; the questions (even after I adapted them a bit) were still too nebulous and this age group just doesn't handle that kind of learning quite as well. Midway through the year, we moved to a "deliverable" system where the kids would be tasked with producing something during that time: a skit, a journaling handout, etc. This seemed to work MUCH better and made the small group times much more fruitful.

    Other tips and tricks? Decide on your vision for this ministry and stick to it. For us, our goal was to get these kids more comfortable being at the parish and in the youth ministry setting so that in 3 years when they are in 8th grade they are a couple steps ahead in the process. It was really interesting to watch some of the 5th and 6th graders, who likely would have been the "too cool for youth group" kids in 8th grade, get bought in to their faith and actually want to come up to the parish on Sunday afternoons!

    I don't know that I have anything else off the top of my head, but anyone is welcome to reach out to me on here or email me at [email protected] and I'd be happy to talk about our experience more directly!

  • How many youth are in youth middle school program that you are able to consider splitting the grades 5/6 and 7/8? I like this idea as developmentally there is a difference between a 6th grader and an 8th grader. Do you follow the same lessons for each group with modifications mentioned above for the 5/6 grade level?

  • We're a medium sized parish, about 1,600 families. We have approximately 50 kids in each grade (+/-10-12). We work from the same material as a baseline (we love Edge!), but heavily adapt for the younger kids and fine tune to meet our middle schoolers' needs. I've built a four year curriculum that follows the Catechism and matches up with our diocesan requirements for RE. The biggest motivator for our split and by that I mean taking 5/6 out of the traditional classroom is our school district is set up K-4, 5/6, 7/8, 9-12. With that, there was a maturity difference between the 5th and 6th graders that didn't fit anywhere else.

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