Last year my congregation moved confirmation instruction back to 5th and 6th grade. So far that is going well, but this year we have two 4th graders who wanted to attend, and are, for various reasons. It’s a strange dynamic, running the gamut from first timers in 4th grade all the way to 8th graders in their last year.
Now, I would have imagined that teaching the 8th graders on their level, already after a year of confirmation would stun and confuse the 4th grade children. Or I would alienate the older kids by teaching to the younger. In reality the opposite is happening. My 4th grade students are answering questions, making connections, understanding– more than some of the kids who have already been in confirmation or are starting in a later grade. Now, the two youngest ones are pretty smart cookies, but I don’t think the difference is a matter of brainpower they are bringing to the table.
It’s the fact that the ones who are doing well, who answer the questions, who make connections, who understand are the ones who go to church every Sunday and attend Sunday School. It doesn’t take a biochemist or B F Skinner to see connection. The children who do well in confirmation are the ones whose parents are most actively supporting their spiritual lives and formation. That’s it.