Age Level Understanding Helps Teachers Make Truths Relevant


No matter how young or old a person might be, the truth of God’s Word will not seem as important to them if they fail to see its relevancy to their lives. Some basic age level understanding can help teachers make truths relevant, making age level training an important part of a Bible teacher’s training plan.

Understand What It Means to Make Truths Relevant

To be sure, God’s truth is already relevant as “all Scripture is useful” and able to “thoroughly equip” us (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Bible teachers, however, need to make certain connections with students to help them see the implications and application of God’s Word to their lives.

We’re not talking about compromising truth by changing it to fit people. We don’t add to or take away from what God has spoken in His Word but rather look at it from an angle that will tend to matter more to one’s students, that will show how it relates to their lives. The same truth, taught in different age groups, will have different slants to make it relevant to the various groups.

Making Truths Relevant to Students' Age
Order the Making Even Well-Known Truths Relevant Worksheet that uses Jesus’ coming to earth as an example showing how it relates to the various ages.

Age Level Understanding Provides a Starting Point for How to Zero in on Truth’s Relevancy to Particular Students

The best way to know how to tap into the implications and application of truth of our students’ lives is to build relationships with them and get to know what’s happening in their lives. That takes time so an understanding of age level characteristics provides Bible teachers with a starting point.

Each of the age brackets have basic needs and abilities. Make sure you understand the traits for the age you teach. This kind of training should be a part of one’s pre-service training but it is never too late to learn more. And, it doesn’t hurt for those who have been teaching for some time to gain reminders.

Training Resource for Age Level UnderstandingOrder the Age Level Characteristics Resource for a glimpse into the age you teach. That link will take you to the resource that includes all age levels but you can order different age modules separately if you don’t need all age groups. It’s broken down as such:


Age Level Training Part of Your Bible Teacher Training Plan?


While some teacher training can relate to teachers of all ages, there comes a point where we need to equip teachers for teaching the age of their group. They need age level training about the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual characteristics of that age. Not to equip them with an age level developmental understanding is a disservice to your teachers and their students.

Why Age Level Training Is Important

If Bible teachers don’t understand traits typical to the age they teach, the will not know …

what to expect (normal behavior, attention span, skill levels, etc.).

Then, teachers might get frustrated or flustered by behavior that’s to be expected, by students’ lack of interest because something isn’t relevant to their lives, and when students won’t sit still because they can’t stay focused.

how to best reach their class (type & depth of content, slant, methods to use, etc.)

Then, students might get frustrated or flustered because they’re either bored, can’t understand, or are unable to do what the teacher expects.

Resources To Help Bible Teachers Learn More About Age Characteristics

Following are a few age characteristics resources available through Ministry Tools Resource Center:

Age Level Training of CharacteristicsIn the Age Level Characteristics Resource you’ll find an article about each of the following age brackets that will help teachers understand that age group, as well a worksheet with characteristics and some implications. Teachers can assess their teaching in light of the suggested implications and determine steps for improvement.

Early Childhood (Infant, Toddler, Pre-Primary)
Grade School (Primary: Grades 1-2, Junior: Grades 3-6)
Youth (Junior High, Senior High)
Adults (College & Career, Young Adult, Middle Adult, Older Adult)

The Age Level Characteristics Resource can be ordered for all ages or in modules that include only one of the above age brackets.

Reaching All Age LevelsThe Reaching All Age Levels Resource can be used for a group training session for teachers of all ages to come together for a short PowerPoint presentation spanning all ages. That presentation gets followed by breakout sessions based on the age being taught wherein they receive additional content through handouts on how developmental needs of that specific age affect the kind of environment students need, how they are motivated to learn, and best methods to use.

Making Truths Relevant to Students' AgeThe three page Make Truths Relevant Worksheet gives teachers a broad perspective showing how the needs and interests of the different age levels changes the slant of the same truth for the various ages.

You’ll also find resource pages on the site that point to more articles and resources about age levels in general and the different age grouping. Click on the links below:


More FAQ about Age Level Issues


FAQ about Age Level Administrative Issues

Part of teaching God’s Word involves understanding age level issues. Previously we asked:

  • Why is it important to understand age level characteristics of the students you are teaching?
  • How does spiritual growth correspond with age level development?
  • How do you teach multiple ages in one group?

Those questions related more to Bible teachers. In this post we want to look at questions that affect Bible teachers but are more relevant to Christian education directors or administrators.

Issues Related to the Administration of Teaching Various Age Levels

What is the best way to group the different ages?

The best breakdown could depend on certain factors in your particular setting. 1) the number of classrooms you have and/or the size of those classrooms – Obviously, this factor could determine how many classes you can have and the size of those classes. 2) the number of teachers you can recruit – Even if you have the space for multiple classes, you must have enough teachers. You may need to combine ages because of this factor. Whatever you do, seek to guard the teacher to student ratio. 3) the number of students in the varying age brackets – Since this can change every year, make an assessment each school year to determine how many students will fall into the various ages that year. Then, break that down to be the tightest age level fit to work with the number of classrooms and teachers you have.

Should teacher training be based on the age being taught?

As a general rule, yes, it is best to train according to the age being taught as needs, issues, methodology, and the like will differ based on age. If you have a small teaching staff, that could mean only one or two teachers per age bracket in a training session. You may need to combine teachers according to broader brackets like Early Childhood, Grade School, Youth, Adults. But, also remember that there are many ways to provide training besides group training. Check out: In a Teacher Training Rut?

Some topics, however, could relate to teachers of all ages so you could occasionally combine teachers of all ages for training. Even then, however, the specific application of these topics could vary based on the age being taught. You can accommodate for that by using breakout groups according to age levels to discuss the implications and applications.


FAQ about Age Level Issues


FAQ about Age Level Issues

God created people to grow developmentally. At each age you will face a different set of issues that will affect how you teach.

Here are some frequently asked questions. More questions will follow in the next post. You can subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new posts.

Issues Related to Teaching the Bible to the Various Age Levels

Why is it important to understand age level characteristics of the students you are teaching?

People have different needs at the various stages of life. Understanding their developmental needs will help you make teaching more relevant for them. People have different abilities at varying age levels. While you want to challenge and stretch students, you don’t want to frustrate them. And, you don’t want to bore them with content and methods below their abilities. Reaching people where they are is biblical. The Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).

For help, check out:

How does spiritual growth correspond with age level development?

The younger the age, the more concrete they think. Consequently, certain concepts cannot be fully understood at younger ages. Spiritual growth, however, goes beyond head knowledge to what’s in the heart. All ages can learn to love and trust the Lord where they are in that stage. The words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3 could relate. He wrote of not having arrived yet but pressing on and that some people were at a different point of view than he was. Then he goes on to say, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (v. 16). Developmentally, people may not be able to fully grasp what it means to be a follower of Jesus. What’s important in God’s eyes, is that they live up to what they have already attained and keep pressing on. That is true spiritual growth.

An adult might seem to know a lot about the Bible but a young child could actually love and trust the Lord more than some adults. An adult might outwardly obey and serve the Lord in ways a child cannot but not have the right heart attitude and motivation. A child who does not appear to be “doing” as much as an adult, could actually have a better heart attitude and motivation in doing what they can and thus be further along spiritually than the adult. Until a person accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and has the Holy Spirit living within them, their growth will remain more on the cognitive level which can be deceiving.

How do you teach multiple ages in one group?

Rather than focus on the negatives of combining multiple ages, zero in on the opportunities and structure accordingly. When you have older students in with younger ones, you have opportunity to develop and mentor leaders among them. You are able provide opportunities for serving right there in the classroom. You can do this by utilizing older children as your assistant or placing them in leadership roles. You can also do this by pairing an older child with a younger child as their “buddy” to not only help them but mentor them. You have opportunity to teach older children responsibility and cooperation as they supervise and guide the younger children.

Also think through how you can maximize participation and learning for all. That could include additional projects for older children while you help the younger ages with the initial one. Just make sure the supplemental activities are meaningful, not just busywork. You could have children work on different aspects of the same project based on their age level (i.e., older children might do the cutting out of items while the younger children paste them on). You could provide total group teaching and then have students work independently on something related to it that fits their age. Or, you could teach the Bible story or content in a large group setting followed by small groups or partners divided by age to work on the implications of that content to their age.