SMJ Boxes - About the Age Levels

God gives us a variety of children in our classrooms. It is important that we not only understand and love each special one before us, but that we teach in a way that motivates them to hear God’s Word and to apply God’s truths to their lives. At each age level, our curriculum is designed with these characteristics in mind. Share this chart with your teachers to prepare them to teach.

Preschool/Nonreaders (Ages 4-5)

  • Attention spans last 5 to 10 minutes
  • Play with others
  • Literal thinkers
  • Curious
  • Active
  • Imitative
  • Do not generalize
  • Limited understanding of numbers, time, space
  • Growing in independence
  • Talkative
  • Developing small muscle control
  • Expanding vocabulary
  • Tire easily
  • Want to please
  • Formulate ideas through concrete experiences

Younger Elementary / Beginning Readers (Grades 1-2)


  • Think in literal and concrete terms
  • Can follow specific instructions
  • Have difficulty sitting still for very long
  • Have a lot of energy
  • Like all kinds of games
  • Need to feel capable
  • Want to please teachers
  • Are talkative
  • Are developing hand-eye coordination
  • Think in terms of good and bad
  • Enjoy Bible stories
  • Understand God’s love through personal relationships


  • Have a limited concept of time and space
  • Enjoy an ever-widening world
  • Are busy and industrious; like to make things
  • Enjoy organized games and group activities
  • Are developing small-muscle coordination
  • Want to win
  • Want things to be fair
  • Use their own experiences to understand the experiences of others
  • Want individual attention and affirmation
  • Like learning from the Bible
  • Make conclusions about God in concrete terms
  • Do not understand the spiritual nature of God

Middle Elementary / Readers (Grades 3-4)

Third and fourth graders are growing in their ability to reason and discover. Unlike younger children, who can think only literally, Middle Elementary students are able to discuss ideas more in depth; they can compare, contrast, analyze, and find out for themselves. Our interactive curriculum is designed for your learners to discover important biblical truths as they look up, figure out, do, respond, and listen. The value of interactive learning is students make discovery on their own and remember so much more. Here’s what they are like at this age:

Growing Physically

  • enjoy physical activity and organized games
  • grow steadily and have good muscle coordination
  • like frequent repetition of activities they enjoy
  • work quickly

Growing Emotionally

  • need to express feelings and may be hurt easily
  • temperamental
  • sensitive to praise and criticism from grown-ups
  • beginning to empathize with others

Growing Socially

  • like to talk, giggle, and whisper
  • enjoy friends of the same sex
  • want to be part of a group and enjoy group projects
  • are eager to please and do things the right way
  • accept rules and have a strong sense of fairness

Growing Mentally

  • growing in reading ability
  • need to feel independent in the classroom
  • eager to learn and experiment
  • can work steadily for long periods of time
  • can take part in experiences involving thinking and feelings
  • growing in ability to reason about concrete issues
  • like to organize information
  • interested in new ideas
  • interested in church, community, and country

Growing Spiritually

  • eager for more than just Bible stories
  • starting to relate individual Bible events to the scope of Bible history
  • want to know details and facts in Bible study
  • becoming conscious of self and of sin
  • often begin to feel the need for a more personal relationship with God
  • want to put into action what they have learned