Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Traditional and Non-Traditional Curriculum

We have talked about why we need to know our church history, community and culture and develop a written vision and purpose for our children's ministry . . . now we are ready to look at the five types of curriculum. There is no shortage of curriculum resources available for churches to choose from on the market today.  With so many out there, and more being released, how does a church know which curriculum resource will equip their children’s ministry to be as effective as possible? While you consider the five types of curriculum, keep in mind curriculum is a tool to help your teachers present God's Word so the children in your ministry will  remember, understand and live God's Word. It is more important your kids remember, understand and live the Scripture truth/principle of accepting God’s love and forgiveness brings a change in our lives and causes us to treat others as Jesus treats us, than they remember Zacchaeus was a short man who climbed a sycamore tree. Make sure the curriculum you select provides the tools to not only teach the Bible facts – which are important and we do want our children to learn – but also teach children what these “facts” mean for their everyday lives! Well, let’s take a look at the different categories of curriculum - Traditional, Non-Traditional, Bridge, Large Group/Small Group and Rotation. Today we will look at Traditional and Non-Traditional Curriculum.
  • Traditional Curriculum Teaching Resources.   Traditional Curriculum Teaching Resources focus on the teacher, “teaching” the Bible.  These are the curriculum tools that are very much the same as the curriculum my church used with me when I was a child – and that was nearly 50 years ago!  Often churches select traditional curriculum because their volunteers recognize it, have taught from it and honestly, it’s the type of curriculum the “teachers” want to use.  Traditional Curriculum typically has age-graded teacher books, visual resources, student books and take-home papers.  It is designed for the teacher to, “teach” and the student to mostly listen and write things on paper.  Traditional curriculum will have a set, through the Bible scope and sequence.
    • Strength of Traditional Curriculum –
      • Biblically grounded, focus on teaching the Bible.
    • Biggest Challenge of Traditional Curriculum –
      • It isn’t the most effective at engaging children, helping them understand God’s Word, remember God’s Word and be able to live God’s Word because kids today are not the same as they were when I was in elementary school and curriculum that doesn’t take this into account will not be as effective at changing the lives of kids today. 
    • Examples of Traditional Curriculum –
      • Bible-in-Life by NeXgen/Cook Communications
      • Standard Curriculum by Standard Publications
      • Scripture Press by NeXgen/Cook Communications
      • Most denominational curriculum resources
    • Top Pick of Traditional Curriculum –
      • Bible-in-Life, published by NeXgen/Cook Communications.  Bible-in-Life is written in an easy to understand, teacher friendly manner, provides options for the classroom teaching time as well as incorporates specific time in each lesson to talk with kids about how they lived the previous week’s lesson.
      • Regular Baptist Press - I like their new "re-write" as it provides more options for teachers to teach with a more interactive format and has a stronger focus on application with the children
  • Non-Traditional Curriculum Teaching Resources.  Non-traditional curriculum focuses on the student “learning” the Bible.  Active learning, open-ended questions with a focus on application are key components of non-traditional curriculum.  This curriculum may or may not have teacher books, visual resources and student materials, but it is designed to get kids up and moving so they will experience the lesson, remember the lesson, understand the lesson and live the lesson.  Non-Traditional curriculum most often has as topical curriculum scope and sequence where it focuses on teaching specific Bible truths.
    • Strength of Non-Traditional Curriculum –
      • Biblically grounded with a focus on truly involving kids so they will learn.
    • Biggest Challenge of Non-Traditional Curriculum –
      • If volunteers do not understand how to use this curriculum they may end up extremely frustrated as the “tools” are different than those in the traditional curriculum they are used to.  You must have volunteers who are gifted with teaching and are willing to teach in non-traditional manners.  They also need to be willing to adapt and modify the curriculum as many times the activity really doesn’t connect with the lesson and they will need to be able to make those connections.
    • Examples of Non-Traditional Curriculum –
    • Top Pick of Non-Traditional Curriculum
      • Hands-On Bible Curriculum is a topical curriculum and emphasizes involving kids, “hands-on” in their lessons and focuses on experiencing, remembering, understanding and living God’s Word.
Tomorrow we will look at Bridge and Large Group/Small Group Curriculum. Please take a moment to "Like" us on Facebook if you haven't already done so and tell people you know about us so they can join in our conversations about children's ministry! Remember, my 2011 VBS reviews will be released in January with my Top Ten and side-by-side comparison chart!

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