Q&A with Dan Scott

Q&A with Dan Scott


Dan Scott is the director for 252 Kids and 252 Preteen curriculum at Orange. He has worked with kids for over 20 years as a teacher, pastor and communicator. He and his wife, Jenna, have four children.

Q: You believe 11 is a key age in a child’s development. Why? 01

Eleven is a “magic age” because a child’s brain is getting ready for adulthood and becomes malleable again. If you were to look at a scan of a two-year-old’s or a three-year-old’s brain and compare it to a scan of an 11-year-old’s, the scans look the same. Very similar monumental developmental shifts are happening.

At ages two and three, a child’s brain is getting ready to learn. They’re starting to put sentences together and are learning fine motor skills. The 11-year-old is entering puberty. It’s the best time to teach a child what they need to know, because a lot of formative memories happen at age 11 and into the preteen years. It’s also when our brains get rid of what we don’t need or use, a process called “cognitive pruning.”

Q: How does this relate to teaching kids about faith? 02

Church leaders need to understand that kids are not remembering what they learned in Sunday school from week to week, because they don’t use it. To help things “stick,” we need to partner with parents and encourage them to continue the conversation with their kids.

Eleven is an age when kids can handle more abstract thought, but in spite of this growth in abstract thinking, there still need to be concrete “handles.” If there aren’t, a small-group discussion time could still result in a roomful of crickets, because 11-year-olds haven’t had a concrete experience on which to base an abstract conversation. For example, if we’re teaching about the idea of grace, we can talk to kids about presents and how grace is a gift. We can ask them, “How do you feel when you get an unexpected gift from someone?” That provides them with a concrete experience they can attach grace to. Then we can explain, “Salvation is an unexpected gift that God gives us through Jesus.” The more concrete experiences teachers can use to relate to kids, the better abstract conversations will go.

Q: How can churches help kids use tech for good? 03

What if church became the place where kids were taught to use technology to learn about their faith? For example, I love questions and believe the church needs to be the safest place to ask any question possible. So in a small group setting, if someone has a question, the leader can model a positive use of technology by saying, “Let’s look it up together!”

Church should meet people where they are. Kids are already on YouTube, so the church should be on YouTube producing videos on relevant topics. Churches can also help parents understand what’s happening at church by connecting to them on Facebook and Instagram. We can also use technology to connect kids to Scripture. Leaders can use a Bible app from stage instead of a printed Bible and show kids that in the palm of their hand, they already have the Bible in every possible translation. The more we can point kids to what’s good about technology, and how they can use technology to grow their faith, the better.

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