Big News! I’m Moving to 4th Grade!!!

Grade 4I let the cat out of the bag during my last Webinar but it is true…I am moving from 8th grade to 4th grade this year!

I saw in our DRE’s spring newsletter that she was in search of a 4th grade catechist. I became intrigued by the idea of teaching a new grade (I’ve never taught 4th graders in my life!) and a new topic (the focus of 4th grade is on Morality and the Ten Commandments). I realized that the 8th grade class in the coming year is much smaller, so the fact that I would be moving would only increase class size for the other 8th grade catechists from 10 to 13 (and one with 14). After talking to Arlene (the DRE) and a few friends and colleagues, I decided to make the move!

Now I can relate even better to all of you who are doing something brand new and are scared to death! OK, I’m not scared to death, but I am nervous about working with such a different age group. On the other hand, I’m excited and energized by the new challenge.

This will give me a whole new set of thoughts, ideas, and experiences to share on my blog in the coming year. Of course, all of my experiences as an 8th grade catechist can still be found by exploring the categories on the right hand side of my blog home page (especially those that deal with Confirmation).

Any tips out there for teaching 4th graders? 🙂

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. I was at your workshop in Duluth and am delighted to hear you are moving to 4th grade this year. As a DRE in a small parish, I’ve been gathering nuggets from you for the past few months and passing them on to the Junior High and High School Catechists. I’ve also been teaching students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade the past 3 years. I can tell you there is a huge difference in development in these 3 age groups. I’ve found lots of help at the Catholic Toolbox website in getting activities that are based on a variety of topics. This year I am integrating powerpoint bible stories and games, music and movement, and crafts as well as your method of reflective prayer. I’m excited for the next year too. I’ll keep you posted. Could you send me a copy of your powerpoint presentation from the workshop? Thanks a million!

  2. Good luck! It will be refreshing and that way we can get your perspective on our kids at this age as well. God is wise! May the Holy Spirit enlighten your heart and your thoughts.


  3. I am about to start my 4th year of teaching 4th graders. I’ve found that most are still anxious to learn about our faith….and not quite at that “too cool for school” age just yet 🙂 So don’t let them fool you…..they still have the “kid” in them that likes to do creative things while learning (i.e. drawing, doing crafts, playing games, etc.) I’ve found that most of the children are anxious to learn, have many questions (especially about the 6th Commandment!), and appreciate it when you reach out to them in ways they understand (i.e. by relating concepts to their daily lives.) That can really spark some good dialogue! Good luck and God bless!

  4. I am so excited to hear you are teaching 4th grade! I have used your website and some of your ideas for not only my class (I also teach 4th) but have also passed them along to our confirmation classes and to the rest of our religious ed instructors.

    I tried your contemplative prayer last year and the class really liked it! My 4th graders were surprisingly spiritual, full of energy and very willing to put their faith into action. They wanted to do service projects (we did) and worked hard and joyfully. They liked music and activities. You will enjoy this age!

  5. I teach at a small parish and have been teaching for the past few years 1st First Communion class, my grade is made up of mostly 3-5 graders, and some sister/brothers who come together and they are in middle school. I have found that most 4th graders today are far more wise in their years and mature than say 15 years ago. Bookwise they may be in 3-5 grade, street smart they are light years ahead. But then again my parrish is small but in a big city. I love teaching them and knowing I am opening their doors to a “commitment” that tell them thats “forever and ever” till the end of your days! A little theatrical perhaps but to love Jesus is for always and they understand.

  6. Joe,
    I’m now DRE, but taught 4th for several years. This was my favorite grade to teach. Lisa described them well. It’s easy to love their freshness. My kids loved to create their own skits. I would challenge them with different moral situations and ask them to get together in their group to “act out” their solution. It was great to watch them teach each other. Many blessings with your new ministry!

  7. I’m teaching 3rd/4th grade this year also. I taught 1st/2nd/3rd for over 10 years. So moving up is going to be interesting. I know I will do well, cause I love the ministry that I’m in. The kids are still innocent….

  8. Oh, what isn’t to love about 4th graders? I think that’s my absolute favorite age–they’re old enough to take care of themselves, they understand the basics of how the world works, but they’re not so sophisticated and jaded that they can’t be enthusiastic and full of wonder. They’re curious and eager to learn and try new things. While you’ll want to plan plenty of things to do, they also are able to have really good discussions that can be a challenge to keep up with.

    Best of all–now I get to pass along “Joe’s tips” to my catechists instead of the Youth Group’s! Hurray! It’s just a win-win all around! Kudos for being open to the challenge!

  9. 4th graders are awesome!!! You will have a great time with this age group Joe, they are enthusiastic and energetic and have lots of questions.

  10. Joe. I can’t wait to read your insights about teaching a new age group…..

    The huge number of comments to your announcing that you are moving to fourth grade are a testament to what you do for all of us….

    Good Luck.

    • Thanks, Greg! I think it also goes to show that we have a lot of 4th grade catechists out there who really love working with that age group!

  11. Joe, hi, I’m moving back a grade too! I’ve taught 2nd grade for 2 yrs now. I’m a little nervous about 1st grade, because they are just starting out on their road to Faith. I’m really motivated and excited to get started. I look forward to hearing about your experiences and ideas with a new grade. Good luck!

    • Hi Christine! Good for you! It sounds like a very small change but there could be some significant differences between 1st and 2nd graders (I’m thinking of reading capabilities) that you’ll disover along the way (and hopefully share with us!) Let’s keep in touch about our new ventures!

  12. Joe, 4th graders are wonderful. They are old enough that you can have good discussions, but still young enough where they can really feel God’s presence in their lives. It is one of my favorite grades to teach. Nine and ten are wonderful ages.

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