I have just had the privilege of graduating out of raising a preteen girl who is now into her teen years. As I reflect back on my experience with her, as well as teaching preteen girls in my church, I believe these are some of the best ways to truly reach out to girls in this fun, yet sometimes tricky, stage of life. If you work with preteen girls, keep these tips in mind.
- Get Crafty: Generally speaking, preteen girls love to be hands-on with art supplies and create together. I have found that if I showed up and did not have a craft planned for the group of girls I taught, then they were surely disappointed. I quickly realized that the crafts didn’t even have to be complicated. They enjoyed even more juvenile things like stickers and glitter. The point is, they enjoyed creating and working with their hands—and the beauty of this strategy is that they listened and participated more when they were engaged in crafting.
- Be Relational: Again, generally speaking—girls like to talk and they like to be heard. I always try to learn something new about kids each time I see them. Preteen girls love to know that you remembered the test they were worried about, or that they were going to see a play. Ask questions, know their families, remember things about them. Help them feel known.
- Teach Deep: Preteen girls are ready to learn deeper doctrine. They ask really good questions and can handle theological truths. This can be a lot of fun, but you will need to do your homework! I learned more about the Bible while teaching this age group than I have in some of my seminary classes. Why? Because they asked me questions that I had to scramble to search the Scriptures and find to satisfy their need to know more about the Lord.
- Give Gifts: Ok, so you don’t need to break the bank, but have some ideas for small gifts and gestures that you can give for various times: birthdays, holidays, end of school celebrations, etc. Even hand-written notes, cookies, gum, or fun pencils can be a way of saying, “I care about you.” Encourage them to love one another by showing how much you love them. Simple gifts can help show that!
- Serve Together: Find ways for preteen girls to serve together in some capacity. Look for opportunities in the church and community or create goody bags for a nursing home, bring canned goods for a food bank. Pray for groups of people. Preteen girls have big hearts—show them that God can use their empathy and heart for others to serve Him.
Ultimately, you are making disciples out of these dear ones. Be a safe adult who is speaking into their lives by meeting them right where they are and teaching them God’s Word faithfully. Model what it looks like to be someone who loves Jesus and loves His Church. Preteen girls are at just the right age to learn more than they ever have about their Maker while having lots of fun together!
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of LifeWay Kids. She is a Baylor graduate and offers a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and publishing. She is the author of Kids Ministry that Nourishes and Life Verse Creative Journal, which she co-authored with her teenage daughter. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children reside in Nashville.