Entering 6th Grade

Kickstarter

It’s time. You knew it was coming, but you had no idea how fast it would actually get here. I am talking about the day when your sweet baby actually grew up and is now beginning the process of changing into a young adult.

It’s time. It’s not time for fear of the future but of daring to lead your preteen into this new phase of their life. We as parents can’t let them stumble their way through. We have the great privilege of sharing with them who they are at this moment and what they can become in the future.

It’s time. The time has come to ask the hard questions and to answer the harder ones with love and with truth. If our preteens can’t trust us to give them straight answers, who can they trust?

It’s time. It’s time to speak to our 6th graders, but mostly it’s time to listen. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that there is a time for everything. And now is your time to gently but truthfully lead your preteen into the wonderful journey of Milestones.

Here are some tips to help guide you through the 6th Grade Milestone:

  • We encourage you to talk with your teen and let them know that you want to help them be prepared for what they will be experiencing over the next few years.
  • If at all possible, it is best if the same parent or guardian has all five conversations with the teenager. Teenagers tend to respond better when things are consistent.
  • Explain to them what Milestones are and why you have chosen to use this resource to encourage a strong bond between the two of you.
  • Discuss with your teenager that you would like to schedule five different days to have a 10-15 minute, uninterrupted discussion with them regarding what changes they will be going through in the near future.
  • Pick five days that work for both of you. If you let your teen help determine those days, you may find that they will take more ownership in it. Every Saturday, twice a week, or even once a month will work if you both are in agreement on the timing.
  • It’s a good idea to allow your teen to determine where these discussions will take place. They know where they will be most comfortable having these conversations with you, whether it’s in their room, at the kitchen table, or on the front porch swing.
  • Agree that there will be no outside distractions during this period of time. No TV, no cell phones, and no other family members. Your teen needs to know that you value the time you get to share with them.

How to Get the Conversation Started:

We have prepared discussion questions for both you and your teenager to answer. We encourage you to download them and then place them in an envelope marked “Parent” or “Teen” and do not look at them ahead of time. This allows your teenager to feel as if they are on an even playing field with you.

Each scheduled day, pick one question out of each envelope and ask away! Agree to answer the questions as honestly as possible.

Within this Milestone, we have included a Parent Guide. It conveys the biblical context of the maturing process and includes encouragement for parents as well as an explanation of the purpose of the Milestone. Your teen’s spiritual growth is happening just as quickly as their physical and emotional growth, and we want to address that, also.

Included in each Parent Guide is a list of suggestions for practically incorporating the themes of each Milestone into your daily lives. Some of these ideas involve a bit of adventure for you to share together!

These first discussions will, by no means, be easy. And they will probably be met with snickers, grins, and one-word answers. But you have made a path to true communication with your teen, and that is priceless. Don’t give up!

Parent Guide

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS

  • It’s only too late to try to talk to your adolescent if you never actually do it. Don’t be scared off if it’s awkward at first. They may roll their eyes, but they’ll secretly love that you tried to talk to them.
  • Kids rarely complain that they don’t want a relationship with their parents; they just wish they had a better one.
  • For our kids, their perception is their reality. If we are dismissive about how they feel, it will be harder to show them a new perspective. Start by understanding how and why they feel the way they do, and they will eventually want to hear more of what you think.
  • Take out some old 6th grade pictures of yourself and connect your heart to your own early adolescence before you start this Milestone. You might even bring it along for the first conversation, or better yet--bring a different and more embarrassing one for the start of each conversation. Nothing breaks the ice like letting our kids poke fun at us!

Framing Up Our Purpose

The sixth grade Milestone is full of potential for creating lasting memories and healthy dialogue with your 6th grader. Because this is a season of so much change, it seems as if our kids can become unsure of themselves almost overnight. Sometimes we notice it when they just feel bad about everything. Sometimes they have a bad attitude. Sometimes they even make bad choices because of it.

The word we want you to keep in mind during this Milestone is wonder. Wonder is when we experience something that is unexpected but amazing or that is so thrilling it takes our breath away. Wonder is the moment we remember that our life and purpose come from the beautiful imagination of God the Creator. We want our kids to look at how they are shaped and wired and experience a deep sense of wonder.

Here are a few biblical truths you can share or use as the backdrop of your conversations. Feel free to look up these verses in a translation that resonates with you.

God’s creation is so good because He is so great.

“For you formed my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame wasn’t hidden from you, when I was made in secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my body; all of my days ordained for me were written in your book, before one of them came to be.” --Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

Your child was probably really good at wonder when they were young. Figuring out that 4+4=8 stunned them. Watching a huge, bright green grasshopper captivated them. Most likely, they thought every colored page they finished was a work of art and that every game of chase on the playground demonstrated their superhuman speed! Probably the most important truth you can imprint on your 6th grader’s heart this year is that, just like all of God’s creation, they are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

When change happens, and life is hard, God is still there. And He is big enough to handle the tough stuff.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary,and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary,and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint.” --Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

As children get older, wonder begins to slip away a little, and they don’t trust it as much. And when they trust it less, they don’t see themselves the same way anymore. Suddenly, it’s harder to believe that they can do anything. There are a lot more questions that they can’t answer, and unkind voices tell them that they aren’t very good at anything. That’s your cue to tangibly remind them that God has not changed and to show them God’s strength when they don’t feel very strong. God wants to do amazing things in and through us.

“But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” --Luke 5:24-27 (NIV)

The people with Jesus that day had probably let go of wonder. They had probably lost hope that God could show up in such a remarkable way. But here is Jesus not only loving a paralyzed man but also healing the brokenness! The people were gripped with wonder.

The beginning of adolescence is the perfect time for you to help your child hold on tightly to wonder and expect to see amazing things as God shows up through all the changes and unexpected problems. Find ways to create space for your child to see the bigness and boldness of God’s creation--everything from a gorgeous sunset on the beach, to towering mountain ranges, to her own reflection in the mirror. Do what you can to help them trust that there are no mistakes or mishaps in God’s artistry--only masterpieces like Himself.

Ideas For Keeping Wonder Alive:

  • Visit a local spot that is known for it’s natural beauty.
  • On a clear night, go somewhere away from city lights and lay in the grass under the stars for an hour.
  • Watch someone you love doing something they are really good at and think about how they are gifted in such a unique way.
  • Stand in front of the mirror and pray that God would help you see all that He loves about you.
  • Experience a sunrise or sunset together.
  • Go to a zoo or someplace where you can see animals.
  • Train to run farther that you thought you could--maybe try a 5K or a half-marathon. You’ll amaze yourself. Better yet, do it together!
  • Listen to the life story of someone from another country.
  • Try something that has always scared you.

Resources

Downloadable Content:

Entering 6th Grade Milestone  PDF6th Grade Discussion Starters