Some Sunday schools prefer to keep the age groups separated, while others prefer to have all the kids learning together. Just like some churches prefer to have a less regimented, more ‘fun’ style of teaching, others prefer a clear, set curriculum. The ages you are catering for, the resources available to you, and the space you have to teach in will affect the type of curriculum that you will choose. Read on to learn more about the different types of curriculum, and the pros and cons of each.
All Ages Together
A popular choice among smaller churches is to keep all of the children together in one Sunday school class. If you don’t have the volunteers, space, or resources to separate the age groups, then this is a great option, as you can even ask the older children to help out and teach the younger ones themselves. However, this can mean that the learning time is less effective, as different ages of children need vastly different attention and activities.
The most common method in kids’ church lessons is to separate the age groups so that preschoolers can learn through stories and songs, while older kids can get stuck in more engaging activities. This is the option we would recommend (if you have the resources available to you), as it will keep the kids much more interested as they get older. If you can’t have a different space for each age group, dividing them up into preschool, elementary school, and middle school can also be beneficial.
Books and worksheets are typically considered the tools of a classroom, and many use these to teach their kids’ ministry curriculum. Books are a versatile and highly effective way to teach children of different ages, and should always be included in learning. However, it is important to ensure that there are other methods of learning involved as we all learn in different ways, and a mixture will enable all types of learners to benefit from the class.
Digital with Software
While it would be difficult to dodge the more typical resources entirely, digital resources can transform the energy of a classroom – investing in good church presentation software will bring every activity alive. When you can broadcast videos, stories, dance-along songs, play games, and more on the big screen, the kids at your Sunday school will love it! Of course, the ease and convenience of printable sheets are difficult to replace by digital means, but including a blend of the digital in your classes will help the central lessons to sink in deeper.
Leading it Yourself
For smaller churches with tighter budgets, or those who are passionate about selecting the curriculum themselves, designing lesson plans is an appealing option. With a vast number of resources available online, it is very possible to do, but most people prefer the ease of a set curriculum. As some of the best set curriculum options have been designed by professionals with years of experience and a plethora of knowledge about child development, it’s certainly beneficial to trust that they know what they are doing.
Choosing to invest in a set curriculum for your children’s ministry curriculum will make your life a whole lot easier. With many options including additional features like calendar planning, app building, free presentation software, and more, the benefits are countless. Our favorite pick is the Think Orange curriculum, as it is perfectly tailored to fit the subtle differences between age groups, and encourages parent participation, bringing religion home.
Kids Ministry and the Church
Mickey Mouse Model
Historically, the ‘one-eared mickey mouse model’ was used in the majority of churches, and kids ministry was an important, but entirely separate feature of the church. Some churches still stick to this method, where kids’ ministry is on a path of its own and has little to no relation to the rest of the church.
Unfortunately, this can lead kids to feel entirely disconnected from the church, and as though what is being taught is not what is practiced in the church as a whole.
These days, more and more churches are seeing the numerous benefits of kids ministry being connected to the congregation. Rather than being a separate entity, many ministry curriculum options focus on alignment with a central belief system. This includes involving parents in kids ministry too, so that the messages are the same at home, in the church, and in the kids’ ministry. Inconsistent messaging has been linked to children growing up and choosing not to practice their faith.
No matter the nuances of your church and kids' ministry, you can create a curriculum that works for you and your community. Whether you are a sprawling multi-site church network or a small and personal group, you can provide the youngsters of your community with the religious education that they deserve.
If you have a small budget, you can take a look at some of the top deals that we have found for 2021, so you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a good curriculum. There are even free Sunday school curriculum options to choose from!
Coupling a strong curriculum with the right church management software and digital tools will maximize your effectiveness as a kids ministry group. As every single person learns differently, combining hands-on activities with reading, writing, and digital resources will ensure that no one is left behind in the learning process.