There’s no question that finding just the right curriculum to fit your children’s ministry is a difficult feat to accomplish. There are literally hundreds of programs available, from the most basic coloring sheets and stories to full-featured productions that rival the top entertainment programming available today. And the cost for that programming is equally diverse. But the issue often isn’t finding a curriculum that you can afford, but finding one that has the content, resources and facility requirements that match your needs. These variables are what led to me writing my own curriculum for the last several years.
While you can apply these same suggestions to writing lessons for any age group. I typically recommend writing targeted at your elementary-aged children. The preschool content of your curriculum is very basic and foundational. The differences are usually in the style of presentation. By the time children are in elementary-age classes, they are forming faith questions that should be addressed specifically.
There are four basic steps for writing your own curriculum for elementary-aged children. This post will look at the first two, and we’ll tackle
First, decide what your children need to know.
In other words, pray! Ask God to help you determine what they need to know about Him. This is often determined by the culture of your church. If the majority of your kids have been in church since birth, what they need to learn about God and living for Him is very different than those who have never attended church and have little or no knowledge of God and His Word. Pray first, then listen. Listen to God, then listen to your kids. What comments do you hear them make about God or about the Bible? What are their prayer requests? When you talk about the Bible, what comments do they make? Listen also to their comments about their friends, their schools and their families. God will give you clear direction to teach His kids. Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me and don’t stop them.”
Children matter to God. When we diligently seek Him for direction concerning His kids, He is faithful to answer that prayer.
Secondly, decide what you will teach each week.
Here you decide what specific Bible lesson (story) you will use to teach what God has put on your heart. Decide on the text and the memory verse that you will use. Decide on the Bible characters and the lessons they bring to us. Each series should be 8 – 12 weeks long. This gives you enough time to establish the theme of the series, teach the main points, and reinforce those points enough that the kids will retain most of the information after the series is over. This is more important than many people realize. The point of teaching children is to help them to learn. Learning requires hearing something more than once. When children are first taught to brush their teeth, we don’t just show them once and then expect them to remember. We show them and remind them and remind them again.
The point of having a series is not only to learn related lessons, but to link those lessons together and reinforce them so that they become part of a foundation that is sure. Each lesson should be built on the previous ones. So, every week of a series includes reviewing all the main points that you have learned in the previous weeks of that series. By the end of the 8 or 12 weeks, you may spend a third of your service time reviewing what you have learned so far.
In part 2, we will look at how to pick a theme and writing the individual lessons.