Monday, March 30, 2015

What "Type" of Curriculum is Your Best "Fit"?

Yesterday I wrote about finding your best curriculum "fit" by identifying your vision/purpose first; so, once you have a vision/purpose, you are ready to select your best curriculum “fit”. 

As you look for your best "fit", keep in mind, the Bible is what you are teaching. Not a particular curriculum. Curriculum is only a “tool” to help you engage children so they experience, remember, understand and live God’s Word for truly changed lives. If it is Biblically sound, any curriculum can be made effective – some curriculum just provide better, more effective tools than others. We select curriculum because it is the best “tool” for our volunteers to utilize so our children will be truly engaged and know how to live God’s Word; not because it has fun gadgets, DVD’s, or colorful artwork! Make sure the curriculum you select provides tools to not only teach the Bible facts – which are important and we do want our children to learn – but also engages children so they understand what these “facts” mean for their everyday lives!

When finding your best curriculum “fit”, keep in mind the different types of curriculum as they each utilize specific teaching styles and tools. Think about what will best help you accomplish your vision/purpose for children’s ministry.
  • Traditional Curriculum Teaching Resources.   Focuses on teachers, “teaching” the Bible.  These tools are much the same as curriculum was when I was a child!  Often churches select traditional curriculum because typically it is doctrinally sound, their volunteers recognize it and have taught from it, providing comfort and familiarity for them. 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. 
  • Non-Traditional Curriculum Teaching Resources.  Focuses on students “learning” the Bible.  Active learning, open-ended questions with a focus on application are the key components.  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, remember, understand and live the lesson. 
  • Bridge curriculum.  “Blends” features of both traditional and non-traditional curriculum providing an option for churches where they’ve utilized traditional curriculum in the past and want to move to a more effective tool. Usually includes teacher and student books.
  • Large Group/Small Group Curriculum Resources.  Provides the option of combining ages or keeping them separate – depending on the needs of your church.  Children join for a large group time of singing and the Bible lesson, then they break into small groups with an adult/shepherd to talk through the point of the Bible lesson, how to live it in their everyday lives, prayer and relationship development. Often utilizes reproducible lessons and student flyers.
These are the four main types of curriculum and it is important to understand which "type" is the best "fit" for your ministry. If your volunteers are more traditional and you move to a non-traditional or large group/small group curriculum without sufficient preparation and training, you are likely to experience extremely unhappy volunteers and unnecessary frustration. This doesn't mean you can't make a change, just be sure to understand which type of curriculum you are currently utilizing; what worked and didn't work with it and have a clear idea of where you want to "head" and why.

Tomorrow I will talk about Scope and Sequence and involving the children in an intentional and engaging manner!

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